Judicial Watch Sues Chicago Mayor for Racial Discrimination against Reporter
On May 18, 2021, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office informed multiple reporters that she would grant one-on-one interviews “only to Black or Brown journalists.” The next day, the mayor released a letter doubling down on her discriminatory policy. Since that time, the Mayor has granted at least one interview request from a self-identified Latino reporter and none to white reporters.
Daily Caller News Foundation reporter Thomas Catenacci, a white male, emailed Mayor Lightfoot’s office requesting a one-on-one interview with the Mayor. The office never replied to the request or to two additional follow up emails from Catenacci.
In response, we filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation and Catenacci against the mayor for violating their First Amendment Rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment (Catenacci et al. v Lightfoot (No. 1:21-cv-02852)).
We filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Chicago, Illinois, is assisting us with the lawsuit.
Our suit alleges that Mayor Lightfoot purposefully discriminated against Catenacci, “because of his race by stating that she would only grant interview requests from ‘journalists of color’….”
“Preventing journalists from doing our jobs in such a blatantly discriminatory way is wrong and does a disservice to our readers who come from all backgrounds,” said Daily Caller reporter Thomas Catenacci. “Every journalist and every person who consumes the news should be concerned by Mayor Lightfoot’s actions. This affects everyone. I look forward to holding the mayor accountable.”
“It’s absurd that an elected official believes she can discriminate on the basis of race. Mayor Lightfoot’s decision is clearly blocking press freedom through racial discrimination,” Daily Caller News Foundation Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton said.
Racial discrimination has no place in America, especially in the halls of government. Mayor Lightfoot’s admitted policy of race-based discrimination is flagrantly illegal and immoral. Simply put, we’re asking the court to find Mayor Lightfoot’s racist abuse unlawful.
(Mr. Catenacci and I appeared on Fox News to discuss the lawsuit. You can view the report here.)
Judicial Watch Seeks Information on Shooting of Ashli Babbitt on January 6
Ashli Babbitt, an Air Force veteran, small-business owner, and devout Trump supporter was shot and killed by an unidentified law enforcement officer as she attempted to climb through a broken interior window in the Capitol Building, located outside the Speaker’s Lobby off the House Floor, during the January 6 disturbance.
She was unarmed. At the time of the shooting, several officers reportedly can be seen in videos, standing in the crowd of protestors in which Babbitt was present.
The DC government is refusing to release information on the shooting, so we filed a District of Columbia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit for police and medical examiner records concerning the U.S. Capitol Police shooting, including the police and medical examiner investigations (Judicial Watch v. The District of Columbia (No. 2021 CA 001710 B)).
We sued in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia after the District of Columbia failed to respond to an April 8, 2021, FOIA request submitted to the Metropolitan Police Department and to an administrative appeal concerning an April 8, 2021, FOIA request to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. The request to the police department asks for:
All records, including but not limited to investigative reports, photographs, witness statements, dispatch logs, schematics, ballistics, video footage, and MPD officials’ electronic communications, concerning the January 6, 2021, death of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol Building and its related investigation.
The request to the Chief Medical Examiner asks for:
All records, including but not limited to autopsy reports, toxicology reports, notes, photographs, and OCME officials’ electronic communications, related to the death on Jan. 6, 2021, of Ashli Babbitt in the Capitol Building and its related investigation.
The normal course of action in a police-related shooting is to quickly inform the public of the details – but the lack of transparency in the killing of veteran Ashli Babbitt in the U.S. Capitol is unprecedented and obviously political. That we must file a lawsuit for basic information after five months of stonewalling is a scandal.
This is not our first lawsuit regarding January 6.
We recently sued the Pentagon and the U.S. Park Police for information on the deployment of troops and warnings about the January 6 U.S. Capitol disturbance.
In March 2021, we filed suit against the U.S. Department of Defense for records about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s January 8, 2021, telephone call with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Pressure from a March 2021 Judicial Watch lawsuit helped lead to the disclosure that Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick died of natural causes.
In February 2021, we filed a lawsuit against the Capitol Police for emails and video related to the January 6 riot.
We obviously won’t let this go. As the corrupt political class here in DC advocates for a “commission,” you can trust Judicial Watch to do a thorough, honest, independent and hard-hitting investigation.
Judicial Watch Attorney Testifies on Left’s Election Law Gambit
“H.R. 4 goes far beyond any civil rights law enacted during the height of the civil rights era,” Judicial Watch Senior Attorney T. Russell Nobile told a House committee this week. “Rather, it is part of a grander plan to shift control of American elections away from individual state legislatures and into the hands of a single federal bureaucratic department.”
Regarding the Democrats’ Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, H.R. 4, which would dramatically increase the role of the federal government, specifically the Justice Department, in overseeing elections, Nobile added in prepared remarks:
It accomplishes this by giving the Attorney General a previously unseen level of authority over elections. Even more troubling than this change to our constitutional tradition of leaving elections to the states, H.R. 4 will ultimately lead to lasting damage to the Department of Justice’s credibility.
H.R. 4 proves that Congress indeed hides elephants in mouse holes. Buried deep in its final pages, H.R. 4 grants the Attorney General authority to enjoin “any act prohibited by the 14th or 15th Amendment” of the Constitution. This little-noticed provision will abolish a long-standing legal principle, leading to highly contentious litigation between states and the Attorney General. It is difficult to overstate the risk that this new law creates to the Department of Justice and the states. Congress should end this unprecedented effort to further inject the Justice Department into partisan election disputes before it goes any further.
This proposed change is a major power shift, allowing the Justice Department to become involved in a whole range of 14th Amendment cases that previously it would have been unable to pursue. The opportunity for any administration, Republican or Democratic, to exploit this new law is significant.
This little-noticed provision will abolish a longstanding legal principle, leading to highly contentious litigation between states and the Attorney General. It is difficult to overstate the risk that this new law creates to the Department of Justice and the states. Congress should end this unprecedented effort to further inject the Justice Department into partisan election disputes before it goes any further.
Nobile testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties during a hearing titled “Oversight of the Voting Rights Act: A Continuing Record of Discrimination.”
Judicial Watch is a national leader in voting integrity and voting rights. As part of this effort, we assembled a team of highly experienced voting rights attorneys who have fought gerrymandering in Maryland, stopped discriminatory elections in Hawaii, and cleaned up voter rolls in California, Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky, among other achievements.
T. Russell Nobile joined us as a senior attorney in May 2019. Mr. Nobile has appeared before federal courts across the country and has a wealth of experience developing, analyzing, and presenting investigative findings involving difficult and sensitive questions of state and federal law.
Mr. Nobile previously served for seven years as a trial attorney for the United States Department of Justice, where he brought complex enforcement actions involving disparate-treatment or disparate-impact claims of discrimination, as well as actions enforcing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Help America Vote Act, National Voter Registration Act, The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, and other federal laws.
Congress’s VIP Air Marshal Program Canceled after Maxine Waters Debacle
Your Judicial Watch gets results. We recently exposed a congressional perk that put the rest of us at higher risk when flying. Thanks to our educational exposé, the perk has been “cancelled” Our Corruption Chronicles blog, which first exposed the scandal, reports:
A scandal-plagued “VIP” program that provided members of Congress with Federal Air Marshals (FAM) often yanked from high-risk fights has been canceled after Judicial Watch exposed it earlier this month. As a result, hundreds of FAM are sitting idly at airports around the U.S. because the “VIP missions have stopped,” according to a federal law enforcement source with firsthand knowledge of the situation. A veteran air marshal who asked not to be identified said “the Washington Field Office in Washington D.C. was almost exclusively dedicated to VIP services for Congress.” Another longtime FAM told Judicial Watch he was deployed on several VIP missions with low-profile members of Congress. He said so many FAMs were on standby for the VIP congressional program that now he and many of his colleagues are “sitting around the airport waiting for a mission.”
Sonya Hightower-LaBosco, a retired FAM who serves as executive director of the Air Marshal National Council, confirmed to Judicial Watch this week that dozens of air marshals that evidently would have been delegated to members of Congress as part of the VIP initiative are waiting for assignments at airports nationwide. “Right now, there are almost 60 in D.C., 40 in Charlotte and another 40 in Orlando,” Hightower-LaBosco said. From January through April the covert VIP service dedicated more than 900 FAM on demand to members of Congress, Hightower-LaBosco said, citing agency data. The politicians often already traveled with plenty of security on flights that did not meet the threat criteria, usually determined by the FBI, for air marshals. In many instances FAMs were plucked from high-risk flights to accompany an elected official, leaving the high-risk plane with no coverage.
That was the case during Congresswoman Maxine Waters’ recent trip to Minnesota. Two FAMs were pulled from a high-risk fight to accompany the California Democrat on the mid-April jaunt, though she was already covered by a four-man detail, according to multiple law enforcement sources interviewed by Judicial Watch. The veteran FAM sources say the politician had two air marshals reassigned to a plane that would otherwise not qualify because it was not considered high-risk. The transfer forced the high-risk flight to complete its trip without the two air marshals originally assigned to it. Waters received the extra security while traveling to Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, after police shot and killed a black man with an open warrant related to an aggravated armed robbery. The Derek Chauvin trial was wrapping up around 10 miles away and the 82-year-old lawmaker incited the crowd, encouraging protestors to “get more confrontational” if the former Minneapolis cop was not convicted of murder for George Floyd’s death. “We gotta stay on the street, we’ve got to get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational, we’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” Waters said ahead of closing arguments in Chauvin’s trial. The former officer was convicted and the judge presiding over the trial called the congresswoman’s comments “abhorrent” Last month Judicial Watch filed a complaint with the chairman of the House Office of Congressional Ethics against Waters for violating House ethics rules by encouraging violence and attempting to intimidate the jury in the Chauvin trial.
Coverage of Waters’ abuse of the VIP air marshal service apparently led to the program’s cancelation, according to numerous government officials interviewed by Judicial Watch. “They were not scheduling us to make sure we were available for the VIPs,” said a longtime air marshal, who is celebrating that the program is finally “done.” FAM are federal law enforcement officers whose primary function is to protect commercial passenger flights by deterring and countering the risk of terrorist activity, aircraft piracy and other crimes to protect the nation’s transportation infrastructure. The VIP service for Congress “left a glaring hole in America’s aviation security,” according to a whistleblower complaint filed this year by the Air Marshal National Council with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Inspector General. The group represents around 2,000 air marshals nationwide. In an interview with Judicial Watch, the group’s president, David Londo, called the VIP program “scandalous.” A veteran air marshal said he and many colleagues on the force often asked: “Why are we really here? To protect against terrorism or babysitting?”
Memorial Day – Honor Their Sacrifice
Memorial Day is when our nation honors the ultimate sacrifice of untold numbers of fellow Americans – Americans who gave their lives to preserve and defend our God-given freedoms and our constitutional republic.
I often, on occasions such as this, reflect on the Veterans Day speech given in 1985 by then-President Ronald Reagan. Much of his speech applies to Memorial Day, especially this portion, which remains timely today:
And the living have a responsibility to remember the conditions that led to the wars in which our heroes died. Perhaps we can start by remembering this: that all of those who died for us and our country were, in one way or another, victims of a peace process that failed; victims of a decision to forget certain things; to forget, for instance, that the surest way to keep a peace going is to stay strong.
Weakness, after all, is a temptation — it tempts the pugnacious to assert themselves — but strength is a declaration that cannot be misunderstood. Strength is a condition that declares actions have consequences. Strength is a prudent warning to the belligerent that aggression need not go unanswered.
Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense. Common sense gives us a realistic knowledge of human beings and how they think, how they live in the world, what motivates them. Common sense tells us that man has magic in him, but also clay. Common sense can tell the difference between right and wrong. Common sense forgives error, but it always recognizes it to be error first.
We endanger the peace and confuse all issues when we obscure the truth; when we refuse to name an act for what it is; when we refuse to see the obvious and seek safety in Almighty. Peace is only maintained and won by those who have clear eyes and brave minds.
I’d like to think many Americans have “clear eyes and brave minds” and these patriots desire the same qualities in our political and judicial leaders who too often avoid confronting – and even promote – the ideology of communism that so many Americans died trying to defeat.
Judicial Watch will not “forget what we stand for,” and in its modest efforts to preserve and protect the rule of law will always seek to vindicate the sacrifices of our fallen warriors.
God bless you and God bless America!
Chicago Mayor Sued Over Racist Policy Targeting White Reporter
Judicial Watch Sues Chicago Mayor for Racial Discrimination against Reporter