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Civil Rights Lawsuit Against Chicago’s Lightfoot

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that a federal civil rights lawsuit it filed on behalf of the Daily Caller News Foundation and reporter Thomas Catenacci against Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot was dismissed after Lightfoot said she will not in the future limit one-on-one interviews to “journalists of color” (Catenacci et al v. Lightfoot (No. 1:21-cv-02852)).  

In dismissing the case, Judicial Watch attorneys noted:

As testified to by her Communications Director and as stated in her motion to dismiss, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has no plans or intentions in the future to exclusively provide one-on-one interviews with journalists of color.   

Judicial Watch filed the civil rights lawsuit against Lightfoot on May 27, 2021 after Catenacci, a white journalist, emailed Lightfoot’s office requesting a one-on-one interview with the mayor. The mayor’s office never replied to the request or to two additional follow-up emails from Catenacci. Catenacci’s request came on one of the days that the mayor admittedly was discriminating against journalists based on race.

On May 18, 2021, Mayor 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 confirming her discriminatory policy.  The lawsuit alleged Lightfoot’s refusal to be interviewed by Catenacci was a violation of the Daily Caller News Foundation’s and his First Amendment rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection.

On July 26, 2021, after the lawsuit was filed, Mayor Lightfoot told The New York Times that she would “absolutely” engage in racial discrimination again. When pressed on the issue by Judicial Watch attorneys, her spokesperson testified under oath in this lawsuit that Mayor Lightfoot promised not to engage in any more of this type of racial discrimination:

Q Okay. Have you spoken to the Mayor about whether she intends to exclusively provide one-on-one interviews with journalists of color in the future?

A Yes.

Q Okay. What did the Mayor tell you about that?

A She does not have plans to do so.

Q Does she intend to do so?

A No.

Mayor Lightfoot’s attorneys also told the Court the same thing in their most recent filing.

“I’m glad that Mayor Lightfoot finally realized that her racist policy was untenable. I hope all elected officials take note of our case and think twice before issuing similar policies,” Thomas Catenacci said.

“It’s amazing and sad that we had to do this in America 2022. A government official discriminating based on race is as wrong as it gets. We are relieved that she finally relented,” Daily Caller News Foundation President Neil Patel said.

“It is incredible, in this day and age, that it took a federal civil rights lawsuit to force Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot to retreat from her racial discrimination against reporters,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.

Christine Svenson of Svenson Law Offices in Chicago assisted Judicial Watch with the lawsuit. 


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