On Aug. 14, the City of Evanston, its Mayor and aldermen moved to dismiss the complaint filed in federal court against them by the Village of Skokie and several of its residents. The federal lawsuit, filed on June 20, arises out of the rates charged by Evanston for processing and transmitting water to Skokie.

Skokie filed the case in federal court alleging civil rights violations even though Evanston had previously filed a case in State court asking the court to determine the rates to be charged.

Evanston’s motion, supported by a legal brief, argues that the complaint should be dismissed on numerous grounds.

First, Evanston argues that a State statute governs the wholesale purchase and sale of water drawn from Lake Michigan. That same statute sets limits on the rates to be charged and, where a dispute over the rates exists, requires that an action be filed, as it was, in the Circuit Court of Cook County.

Second, the motion argues that Skokie has no federally protected fundamental right to Lake Michigan water, and “the absence of any federally protected fundamental right is fatal to each and every single claim that Plaintiffs have trumped up in the Complaint.” 

Third, Evanston argues that the Skokie plaintiffs lack standing to bring the action because Skokie has not paid the new rates set by Evanston’s City Council and for other reasons.

Fourth, Evanston argues, under the Younger doctrine, that the federal court should abstain from hearing the case because it implicates important state interests and the matter should be decided by Illinois courts.

Fifth, the Evanston Mayor and aldermen are immune from suit and have been named “in order to garner headlines.”

The Skokie plaintiffs will have an opportunity to file an answering brief, and the Evanston defendants a reply. The Evanston defendants are represented by lawyers with the Chicago law firm Ancel, Glink, Diamond, Bush, Dicianni & Krafthefer, PC. 

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...