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September 8, 2005

Gov. Blagojevich, Attorney General Madigan take legal battle to U.S. Supreme Court to stop the Pentagon from moving F-16 aircraft from Springfield’s 183rd Fighter Wing

CHICAGO – Attorney General Lisa Madigan, on behalf of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich, today filed an application for an emergency injunction with the U.S. Supreme Court to stop U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (BRAC) from moving F-16 aircraft from and otherwise realigning the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield. 
Gov. Blagojevich and Attorney General Madigan have said that the Pentagon’s May 13th recommendation, which the BRAC Commission also endorsed, violates federal law, which dictates that the Governor must give his consent for this type of realignment.  This latest legal action follows a lawsuit that was filed in federal district court on July 21st seeking to block the Pentagon’s initial recommendation, and an emergency injunction request filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on September 7th.
"We believe that the law is clearly on our side, and, if the Supreme Court takes on this issue, this is an important step in keeping these F-16s in Illinois because I have not and will not give my consent to transfer them to Indiana.  This is not a complicated case, and I am hopeful that our nation's highest court will see through the Pentagon's and the BRAC Commission's indefensible decision," Gov. Blagojevich said.   
“Illinois has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to grant an emergency injunction to prevent the BRAC Commission from recommending to the President in its report that the 183rd Fighter Wing be realigned,” Attorney General Madigan said.  “We remain hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will see things our way and grant the injunction.”
Legal counsel for the BRAC Commission recently issued a memo in which he fully agreed with the legal arguments that Gov. Blagojevich and Attorney General Madigan have been making all along.  BRAC Deputy General Counsel Dan Cowhig wrote that no change in the organizational structure of an Air National Guard Unit can take place without the consent of the state’s governor.
The Springfield Air National Guard Base offers unique training opportunities for our military that are second to none and a highly strategic location for homeland security missions for both Illinois and the entire Midwest.  Illinois is also home to 11 nuclear power plants that provide 50 percent of our power generation.  Further, Illinois has 28 locks and dams on the Illinois, Mississippi and Ohio rivers.  If these recommendations are adopted, these vital assets, and many others, will be at greater risk without the F-16s in Springfield.  This would also leave Illinois with only two Air National Guard flying units, which is the same number as several states with much smaller populations, including Alaska, Arkansas and Hawaii. 
The Air Force’s own analysis also shows that taking the F-16s out of Springfield will actually cost the taxpayers $10 million and will never produce any savings.    
The Governor has been leading a coordinated effort for nearly three years with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, other elected officials and local leaders to prevent Illinois’ military bases from ending up on the BRAC list.  He consistently has stressed that these actions are a threat to our national and homeland security and are not cost effective.
The Commission must publicly release its final BRAC report by September 8th and will send it to President Bush.  The President has until September 23rd to approve or disapprove the list.  The BRAC list must then be sent to Congress by November 7th, who must also approve or disapprove the list.


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