June 13, 2013
On Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder filed a Justice Department brief in a class-action lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s policy of violating the Fourth Amendment with its controversial stop-and-frisk program.
Instead of taking a stand on the illegality of the procedure, Holder’s Justice Department said a monitor should be put in place to oversee changes to the police department’s practices following remarks made by Judge Scheindlin of Federal District Court in Manhattan in May questioning the clearly unconstitutional police tactic. Scheindlin criticized the “high error rate” of the procedure. “You reasonably suspect something and you’re wrong 90 percent of the time,” she said.
The lawsuit was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights and other civil rights lawyers. Floyd v. City of New York argues that police target black and Hispanic New Yorkers without probable cause and the procedure amounts to racial profiling.
In 1968 the Supreme Court undercut the Fourth Amendment by ruling in Terry v. Ohio that cops only require “reasonable suspicion” and not “probable cause” to search a person. In the case of New York police, this “reasonable suspicion” standard fails 88 percent of the time.
The Justice Department brief reveals an effort by the federal government to trample states’ rights by advocating the use of injunctive relief that “may include the appointment of an independent monitor” designated by the feds instead of arguing that the stop-and-frisk procedure is unconstitutional.
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