Everyone now knows that a Federal judge here in New York has ruled that Stop-and-Frisk is unconstitutional. This is cause for celebration for all people of goodwill.
But let’s not get complacent. The Mayor and the Commissioner will appeal–and the Appeals Court gets it wrong sometimes. Certainly they got it wrong recently in the case of Hedges v. Obama, in which they overturned a heroic ruling from the District Court, in which Judge Katherine Forrest found NDAA Section 1021 unconstitutional. (Section 1021 authorizes the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens by the U.S. military, and tramples on the First, Fifth, and Sixth amendments to the Constitution.
Victory in the courts is wonderful, but victory in the legislative branch is just as necessary. As I’ve said before, I support all four of the Intro.’s (the New York City Council bills) of the proposed Community Safety Act. I believe the two Intro.’s that were withdrawn by Councilmember Jumaane Williams should be re-introduced. I imagine that Williams had good reasons to withdraw them, but both are worthy of being passed into law by City Council. Intro. 799 would protect New Yorkers against unlawful searches, and Intro. 801 would require police officers to identify themselves to those people they stop and detain. They’re both sensible, fair, democratic acts of Council that the city needs.
But for the moment we can be glad that sometimes a Federal court can get it right–as this judge did in finding Stop-and-Frisk discriminatory and unconstitutional.