The civil rights community is reeling after a panel of three federal
judges stayed an earlier decision that halted a police practice
activists felt unfairly targeted minorities.
The United States
Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has granted a stay of an August
ruling that ordered a host of changes and reviews in the practice of
"Stop and Frisk," a policy that gives New York Police Department
officers wide latitude in stopping anyone they deem suspicious.
Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly hailed "Stop and Frisk" as
an effective crime deterrent while the NAACP and other civil rights
organizations complained that minority males represented the majority of
people stopped under the policy.
In issuing the ruling, the court also pulled Judge Shira
Schiendlin from the case, citing an "appearance of partiality
surrounding this litigation."
The ruling accused Scheindlin of steering the case toward her courtroom when it was initially filed five years ago.
The civil rights community expressed disappointment.
" 'Stop and frisk' policing is nothing less than the largest racial
profiling program in the country, and Judge Schiendlin was right to rule
it unconstitutional," NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Jealous said.
"Legalized racial profiling has been discredited and will ultimately be
relegated to the dustbin of history."
"This is a disappointing
roadblock in the effort to fight profiling on New York City's streets,"
said Niaz Kasravi, the NAACP's criminal justice director. "Judge
Scheindlin's decision responded to vast amounts of evidence that the
NYPD profiled based on race, ethnicity, LGBT status and faith. We will
continue to fight until we end bias-based policing in New York City and
across the country."
The New York Police Department and the mayor's office did not respond to requests for comment.
In the her August decision, Schiendlin ruled that police had violated
the civil rights of thousands by wrongly targeting minority men.
The judges who wrote the Thursday ruling concluded that Scheindlin
"ran afoul of the Code of Conduct for United States Judges,"
specifically, the parst that stipulates that a judge "should avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all activities," and
"shall disqualify himself or herself in a proceeding in which the
judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned."