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Introduction to Our Legal Fight

After more than four-and-a-half years of torturous legal maneuvering, the Chicago Board of Education now has to face the First Amendment it tried to abolish in January 1999.

At that time, Chicago's school board and the school system's frenetic CEO Paul Vallas sued Substance newspaper and editor George N. Schmidt for more than $1 million in an uprecedented "copyright infringement" lawsuit.

Thanks to the way media in Chicago is controlled by the Daley administration, the lawsuit became one of the biggest media events of the final week of January 1999 in Chicago. Read more.....


Legal Fight Latest News

October 21, 2004

U.S. Supreme Court avoids Substance case

By George N. Schmidt

The United States Supreme Court has refused to hear the appeal of the Substance lawsuit. On October 7, Substance attorneys learned that the Supreme Court had denied a writ of certiorari, thereby ending federal appeals on the case. This means that the 7th Circuit decision upholding the District Court in Chicago stands. Read more...

January 1, 2004

A Personal Message from George Schmidt

Dear Colleagues:

Below is the complete text of Judge Posner's decision in the Substance case. It was posted on the court's website yesterday afternoon. I have spoken to our attorneys and with the Tribune, which called me about it. Read more...

7th Circuit Court Reaches a Decision in the Substance Case

Read the complete decision HERE.

June 26, 2003

Briefs filed on behalf of Substance

The Chicago Teachers Union and a coalition of groups (PURE, FairTest, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights) filed briefs in amicus curiae at the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals supporting Substance in its freedom of the press battle.

Download the CTU Brief. (Adobe Acrobat format).

Download the Brief filed on behalf of Parents United for Responsible Education (PURE), the National Center for Fair and Open Testing (FAIR TEST), the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights under Law, and Gerald Bracey. (Adobe Acrobat format)

June 18, 2003

Substance appeals to Seventh U.S. Circuit, citing four years of First Amendment violations in Chicago

Attorneys for Substance, Inc. and the editor of Substance (this reporter) filed the appeal at the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today, formally challenging the constitutionality and legality of the four-and-a-half year campaign by the Chicago Board of Education to suppress the publication of important information on high-stakes testing in the pages of the monthly newspaper Substance. Read more...

Download the Substance appeal. (Adobe Acrobat format)

April 10, 2003

Board drops million-dollar claim against Substance

The Chicago Board of Education has dropped its $1.3 million damages claim against Substance, Inc. and editor George N. Schmidt.

Four years ago, on January 26, 1999, the Board sued Schmidt and Substance in federal court for $1 million. It later upped that amount to $1.3 million in its amended federal complaint and to $1.4 million at an employment termination hearing it held against Schmidt between January and June 2000. Read more.....


Legal Fight Background