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Tom Fitton's Judicial Watch Weekly Update

Chicago Mayor CONFESSES To Racist Policy

Judicial Watch Seeks Injunction Against Chicago Mayor’s Admitted Racist Interview Policy
Federal Prison Inmates Escape Undetected, Deceive Guards with Dummies in Bed

Biden Administration Allows Leftist Groups Pick Illegal Alien Asylees, Expands Youth Entry
Judicial Watch Warns of Election Integrity Crisis

 

Judicial Watch Seeks Injunction Against Chicago Mayor’s Admitted Racist Interview Policy

The case of Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s attempt to institute a racist interview policy isn’t over. The latest development is  brief  we filed in support of our request for a preliminary injunction to immediately prevent her from denying Daily Caller News Foundation reporter Thomas Catenacci’s interview request on the basis of race. 

The filing comes in response to an admission filed by Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s office  that confirms her office engaged in a two-day “press tour” involving six interviews that was “exclusively” limited to “journalists of color.”

We initially filed the  lawsuit  on May 27, 2021, in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division ( Catenacci et al v. Lightfoot (No. 1:21-cv-02852)).

We sued after Catenacci, a white journalist, 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. Catenacci’s request came on one of the days that the mayor admittedly was discriminating based on race.

The lawsuit and subsequent preliminary injunction request assert that Lightfoot’s refusal to be interviewed by Catenacci violates the Daily Caller News Foundation’s and his First Amendment rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection. In our most recent filing, we note that our journalist clients continue to suffer irreparable injury because of Mayor Lightfoot’s admitted racist interview policy:

While other journalists may be relieved that Mayor Lightfoot has asserted that she will not discriminate against them on the basis of race going forward, the mayor’s assertion that she has stopped discriminating on the basis of race does nothing to remedy the irreparable harm Plaintiffs suffered on May 20, 2021 and continue to suffer. And absent an injunction or other order of this Court, nothing compels Mayor Lightfoot from not discriminating on the basis of race in the future. A preliminary injunction is necessary to prevent continuing irreparable harm caused by Mayor Lightfoot’s violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights and Catenacci’s right to equal protection.

“Mayor Lightfoot admits she discriminated based on race on the day I requested an interview,” said Thomas Catenacci.  “The Court gave her the chance to say she didn’t discriminate against me because I am white. She did not do so. Every day my interview request is not granted because of my race, my Constitutional rights are violated. This is simply unacceptable.”

“Mayor Lightfoot should just grant our interview request and commit to never again discriminate on the basis of race,” said Daily Caller News Foundation Editor-in-Chief Ethan Barton. “What’s to stop her from using this racist policy to block the freedom of the press in the future?”

Mayor Lightfoot confessed to a racist interview policy. The court should refuse to give Mayor Lightfoot a day pass for racial discrimination and issue an injunction immediately protecting our clients and the public this outrageous abuse.

Federal Prison Inmates Escape Undetected, Deceive Guards with Dummies in Bed

The Federal Bureau of Prisons brags on its website: “Sleep soundly. We’ll be up all night.” Well, you might want to keep one eye open, as this Corruption Chronicles report explains.

The nation’s federal prison system is in hot water again, this time for security failures that allow inmates to escape undetected. In some cases, the prisoners who slip away place dummies in their bed to deceive correctional officers and in other instances they simply have other inmates pose as them during counts. Details of the breaches are offered in a Management Advisory Memorandum issued this month by the Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG). The document focuses on the Federal Bureau of Prisons (FOB) minimum security facilities, known as Federal Prison Camp (FPC) and Satellite Prison Camp (SPC) locations. The watchdog’s findings should embarrass FOB officials at every level. “Gaps in security at FPCs and SPCs present risks that inmates will escape and, if they return, smuggle contraband back into facilities undetected, which endangers the community, other BOP inmates, and correctional staff,” the IG writes in its memo to prison officials.

Seven of the FOB’s 122 facilities are minimum security and fall under the category of FPC. They have dormitory housing, a low staff-to-inmate ratio and limited perimeter fencing. SPCs are small camps adjacent to the main facility and provide inmate labor to the main institution, according to the FOB website, as well as off-site work programs. Security weaknesses found by investigators vary by facility and are serious enough to enable inmates to escape undetected. They include unsecured outer building doors within some FPCs and SPCs, even during times when inmates were not permitted to move freely; door locks and sensors that were susceptible to tampering, thus leading to alarms failing to function when locked doors were opened without authorization; limited or no outer perimeter fencing; and limited video surveillance. The lapses allowed four inmates at a Beaumont, Texas facility to slip away undetected for more than 12 hours despite three overnight inmate counts conducted by officers. “The evidence showed that the 4 inmates escaped the facility after the 4:00 p.m. stand up count (for which they were present) and that, despite the Correctional Officers conducting counts at 12:00 a.m., 3:00 a.m., and 5:00 a.m., they were not discovered missing at those times,” the management advisory memo states.

Incredibly, investigators found that correctional officers did not violate policy because they were essentially fooled by the inmates. “The evidence showed that the inmates who escaped may have had other inmates pose as them or placed dummies in their beds to deceive Correctional Officer during nighttime counts,” the DOJ IG memo says, adding that “evidence showed that the Correctional Officers likely complied with BOP and FCC Beaumont policy when conducting the nighttime counts.” This indicates that standards are quite low for trained federal prison officers so easily duped by the convicted criminals they are charged with guarding. The DOJ watchdog seems to defend the officers, instead attributing the lapse on “security concerns that enabled the inmates’ escape.” Furthermore, BOP policy discourages correctional officers from using excessive light when conducting inmate counts allowing inmates to deceive officers into counting them when they are not actually present, the DOJ IG reveals. “We were told that as long as inmates return to their assigned building and bunk before the correctional officers conduct stand-up inmate counts, they can escape the SPC undetected,” according to the advisory memo.

The minimum security report comes on the heels of a more serious lapse involving the FOB’s failure to monitor terrorist inmates amid a huge spike in radicalized convicts in its custody. Part of the nation’s federal prison system is to keep America safe by, among other things, monitoring all social communications of high-risk inmates, especially those with terrorist ties. It is a crucial part of the BOP’s duties considering that in the last decade the number of inmates with known links to terrorism increased by an astounding 250%. Incredibly, the BOP, which has a $7.1 billion annual budget, doesn’t adequately check the communications of terrorist prisoners and hasn’t even bothered identifying all terrorists in its custody, according to a report issued earlier this year by the DOJ IG. Even when the BOP monitors the communications of high-risk inmates, it does not do it consistently and the inspector general found that “thousands of terrorist inmate communications” are only partially checked. Investigators offer the consequences of this negligence, writing that the disbursement of sensitive information—including videos, pictures, and other documents—helps “radicalize other inmates.”

Less than a year earlier the BOP came under fire after its elite riot teams committed embarrassing gaffes during training exercises that made the highly trained officers seem like amateurs. BOP staff members were seriously injured because there was “inappropriate and dangerous” use of force and pepper spray during the mock exercises, according to an audit conducted by the DOJ IG. The units, known as Special Operations Response Teams (SORT), gained national media attention because they were deployed by the attorney general to respond to violence and looting after George Floyd’s death. They are specialized tactical squads trained to respond to emergency situations such as prison riots, hostage taking, assaults on jail staff and inmate escapes. All federal prisons have their own SORT and they usually have 15 members led by a commander or captain.

Biden Administration Allows Leftist Groups Pick Illegal Alien Asylees, Expands Youth Entry

The Biden administration’s unprecedent assault on immigration law and border security involves allied leftist groups in the private sector, as our Corruption Chronicles blog reports.

The Biden administration has confirmed leftist groups are picking hundreds of illegal immigrants daily to enter the U.S. to request asylum and the comeback of an Obama-era program to woo more Central American minors though there are already tens of thousands in government shelters nationwide. The double whammy was delivered just weeks apart as the migrant crisis reaches a boiling point and the nation sees record high illegal immigration along the nearly 2,000-mile Mexican border. High-ranking administration officials call it a legal alternative to irregular migration.

First, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally verified to Congress that it conceded to the demands of the leftist national organization American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to admit approximately 250 illegal aliens daily, or 7,750 a month. DHS officials explained that certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are helping it identify potential illegal immigrants for asylum, veteran members of Congress revealed in late May. They include ranking members of the House Oversight, Judiciary and Homeland Security committees. The lawmakers disclose the information in a letter to DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas demanding the criteria being used by the administration for humanitarian exception for illegal immigrants as well as the NGOs that are determining eligibility of those seeking the exception.

This week a mainstream newspaper reports that nearly 4,000 illegal immigrants chosen by leftist NGOs were granted exceptions and allowed to cross the border in May. Citing Customs and Border Protection (CBP) data, the article documents a steady rise in exemptions even as the administration claims the border is closed. In April CBP let 1,790 migrants enter legally, up from about 719 in March. “In prior months, the numbers were in the low hundreds,” the story reads. In May alone, CBP encountered 180,034 illegal aliens attempting entry along the southwest border, agency figures show. In Tijuana more than 10,000 have requested to enter the U.S. seeking asylum under the Biden administration’s expanded exemption program. An open borders group called Al Otro Lado (on the other side) that promotes “justice for migrants” is screening the candidates along with the International Rescue Committee, which helps people whose lives are shattered by conflict and disaster, and the ACLU. To facilitate the process Al Otro Lado has an online form in Spanish to screen candidates. Questions include if asylum seekers have ever been deported from the U.S., if they identify as indigenous or LGBTQ, have experienced sexual abuse, kidnapping, homelessness, or hunger. To promote its new process, the group has distributed fliers at the Tijuana encampment and area shelters, the article says, adding that a popular mobile messaging app is also used to spread the word.

Also this week the Biden administration announced it is bringing back a program started under Obama in 2014 to allow more Central Americans under the age of 21 to come to the U.S. legally. Never mind that the administration is already housing tens of thousands of illegal immigrant minors seeking asylum in hundreds of facilities around the country. Data obtained by a national newswire shows the number of migrant youths, known as Unaccompanied Alien Children (UAC), in U.S. custody more than doubled in the last two months and the government is currently housing more 21,000. Reinstating the Obama program will make tens of thousands of minors from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador eligible to come to the U.S. A statement issued jointly by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and DHS Secretary Mayorkas describes it as “reinstituting and improving the Central American Minors (CAM) program.” The presidential cabinet officials add that they “are firmly committed to welcoming people to the United States with humanity and respect, as well as providing a legal alternative to irregular migration.” They also claim that they are delivering on their promise to promote safe, orderly, and humane migration from Central America through this expansion of legal pathways to seek humanitarian protection in the United States.

 

Judicial Watch Warns of Election Integrity Crisis

The Left has a singular focus in changing federal and state election laws in ways that undermine election integrity and, to put it bluntly, make it easier bad actors to steal elections.  Judicial Watch has been on the front lines in the courts and the public square to defend the rule of law and clean elections. Micah Morrison, our chief investigative reporter, has the latest:

Judicial Watch has long been at the forefront of the fight for election reform, battling to clean up voter rolls and informing the public about threats to the integrity of the electoral system. Today, clashes over election laws are raging in state legislatures and Congress. The fight is often ugly, with cries from the Left of a new “Jim Crow” regime—the laws that suppressed and segregated Blacks in the aftermath of the Civil War—echoing across the land.

The election integrity crisis is unfolding on many fronts. One of the most serious threats comes from Congressional attempts to move control of elections from the states into the federal government. Judicial Watch Senior Attorney T. Russell Nobile recently testified before a committee of the House of Representatives on legislation that would dramatically increase the role of the Justice Department in overseeing elections.

The first attempt by Democrats to reshape the American electoral system in the Biden era was stymied last week when a moderate member of their own party balked. The action in Washington now shifts to the bill known as H.R. 4—the John Lewis Voting Rights Act.

“The truth is that H.R. 4 goes far beyond any civil rights law enacted during the height of the civil rights era,” Nobile told Congress. “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. It accomplishes this by giving the attorney general a previously unseen level of authority over elections.”

Before joining Judicial Watch, Nobile served as a trial attorney for the Justice Department, enforcing election laws and bringing cases under the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act, and the National Voter Registration Act. He warns that buried deep in H.R. 4 is a provision that gives the attorney general sweeping new constitutional authority to bring civil rights cases—including cases that have nothing to do with voting.

The new provision grants the attorney general authority to intervene in “any act prohibited by the 14th or 15th Amendment” of the Constitution.

Nobile warns that the “little-noticed provision will abolish a long-standing legal principle.” For more than 200 years, Congress and the courts have declined to give the attorney general authority to bring such cases.

Nobile explains: “Under current law, the attorney general is only authorized to bring civil rights claims under specific statutes, typically those statutes prohibiting discrimination, and has no authority to sue directly for certain violations of the Constitution.” H.R. 4 changes that. The “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.” For example, under the new provision, the attorney general could bring a case challenging a state abortion regulation, or intervene as a party in lawsuits to support 2nd Amendment restrictions.

That’s not the only sweeping change envisioned by H.R. 4. The legislation also would reinterpret the keystone Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. As Nobile notes, Section 5, passed into law in 1965, “was a temporary, extraordinary remedy to address an extraordinary problem…intentional state-sponsored and/or state-supported efforts to disenfranchise Blacks” in many Southern states by preventing voter registration and suppressing turnout.

Section Five “presumed  that any voting change by a covered jurisdiction was implemented out of discriminatory intent or effect, until the jurisdiction proved otherwise. The Supreme Court ruled this presumption of guilt without a trial was justified in the context of the terrible racial discrimination occurring in 1965,” Nobile notes.

But Section 5 was meant to be a temporary solution and expire after five years. Instead, Congress kept it in effect for sixty-six years, until the Supreme Court intervened in 2013 with the Shelby County decision. Shelby threw out the decades-old “temporary” solution, ruling that it was unconstitutional and outdated.

H.R. 4 seeks to put it back—and expand it to other parts of the country.

Nobile notes that permanent provisions of the Voting Rights Act, such as Section 2, still prohibit discrimination “and provide the tools needed for the Justice Department or private litigants to challenge election standards, practices, or procedures that are enacted with discriminatory intent or that result in minorities having less opportunity than others to participate in the electoral process.”

H.R. 4 goes even further, Nobile warns, by granting the Justice Department “new nationwide preclearance” power—that is, preapproval power from the attorney general or the courts—targeting a wide array of “popular voter integrity provisions,” including “voter identification and list maintenance.”

With the country in an uproar over voting and elections, the Democrat-sponsored H.R. 4 looks more like a naked power grab than a reasoned response to the facts on the ground. For example: the Justice Department has brought only a trickle of Section 2 actions since Section 5 was thrown out by Shelby eight years ago. That would not be the case if rampant voter suppression existed.

More telling: detailed data studies show that Black voter registration in the Southern states previously covered by Section 5 has “completely rebounded and, in some instances, exceeds White registration rates,” Nobile notes.

The data show that “eight years after Shelby County, registration disparities in Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Mississippi—all previously covered (in whole or part) by Section 5—are all below the national average. In fact, Black registration in Mississippi is 4.3% higher than White registration.”

The 2020 election saw a higher turnout across all racial groups. Turnout disparities in previously covered Section Five states like “Mississippi, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, and Texas were all smaller than the national average,” Nobile notes. “In fact, the disparities in turnout in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Oregon, Colorado, New Jersey, and New York were higher than the turnout disparities in these former Section 5 states. Again, turnout for Blacks in Mississippi outperformed that of Whites.”

Facts are stubborn things, after all. “However one views any talking points about ‘rampant voter suppression,’” Nobile notes, “the data cannot be ignored: registration and turnout data in 2020 far exceeds that in 1965. When Blacks now register and turn out at higher rates in places like Mississippi, it is simply not credible to claim that Jim Crow style voter suppression currently exists.”

Read Judicial Watch Senior Attorney T. Russell Nobile’s remarks before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties here. More on Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act here. And more on the Shelby County decision here.

Until next week,