The City of Chicago will host the 2024 Democratic National Convention (DNC) in August 2024. Many groups view national political conventions– which draw participants and media from across the country and around the world – as an important venue for demonstrations and protests addressing a range of policy issues.

We filed a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of organizations called Bodies Outside of Unjust Laws: Coalition for Reproductive Justice & LGBTQ+ Liberation (Bodies Outside) whose  permit to march during the DNC was denied.  The coalition sees the march as an opportunity to demand the urgent need for federal action in response to the wave of nationwide attacks on access to abortion care as well as the LGBTQ+ community.

Bodies Outside began organizing last year for a march to bring their demands to attendees and participants at the DNC. They planned to march down Michigan Avenue and State Street the Sunday afternoon before the Convention opens, a route that passes various downtown hotels where international media and delegates will stay. After filing for a permit from the city of Chicago, Bodies Outside received phone calls from various City officials counseling the group to be “flexible” and consider altering their route. They did not, however, explain the City’s concerns or recommend particular changes.

Even after Bodies Outside filed an amended permit application shortening the portion of the route along Michigan Avenue and making other changes, the City denied the application. The City offered an alternate route along Columbus Drive – away from the hotels where delegates to the Convention will stay in Chicago.  Bodies Outside appealed against the denial of the permit before a hearing officer. At that hearing, City officials declared that the march could not be accommodated because of a lack of security resources and because of the disruptions that would be caused to traffic by the proposed route. However, the officials could not definitively say how many law enforcement personnel would be required nor how much traffic would be disrupted during the proposed time of the march.

We are asking a federal court to recognize that the summary denial of Bodies Outside’s permit request was unconstitutional and order the City to grant them a permit on a route that allows them to reach their intended audience of Convention delegates.