Federal Judge Blocks NY Stop-and-Frisks Without Suspicion
On Tuesday, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the Bronx Trespass Affidavit Program's (TAP) "stop-and-frisk" practices when performed without reasonable suspicion.
Judge Shira Scheindlin of the Federal Court District of Manhattan ruled that aspects of the stop-and-frisks used by the New York Police Department were unconstitutional because officers were stopping individuals outside of residential buildings without sufficient suspicion that they were trespassing. Scheindlin also issued an injunction against stop-and-frisks by officers unless there is substantial evidence that an individual is trespassing. She is also considering ordering the NYPD to adopt a written policy that defines the limited cases in which an individual may be stopped as part of TAP.
"While it may be difficult to say where, precisely, to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops" Scheindlin wrote in her decision. "The evidence of numerous unlawful stops at the hearing strengthens the conclusion that the NYPD's inaccurate training has taught officers the following lesson: stop and question first, develop suspicions later."
As part of the TAP program, property managers authorized the NYPD to patrol inside residential buildings and arrest those they find trespassing. However, Judge Scheindlin found that officers were frisking individuals that were only seen entering or leaving the building even if the individuals were guests or residents who did not have their identification.
"For those of us who do not fear being stopped as we approach or leave our own homes or those of our friends and families, it is difficult to believe that residents of one of our boroughs live under such a threat. In light of the evidence presented at the hearing, however, I am compelled to conclude that this [is unconstitutional]," concluded Scheindlin.
Media Resources: Businessweek 1/8/2013; Huffington Post 1/8/2013; New York Times 1/8/2013; Wall Street Journal 1/8/2013
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .