Judge Shira A. Sheindlin, a Clinton appointee, was explicit in her rebuke to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a strong defender of stop and frisk. The judge said the program, as run by the NYPD, offered only a modest improvement in public safety at a high cost in liberty:
“[I]t is ‘clear and plain’ that the public interest in liberty and dignity under the Fourth Amendment, and the public interest in equality under the Fourteenth Amendment, trumps whatever modicum of added safety might theoretically be gained by the NYPD making unconstitutional stops and frisks.”The judge said a number of times that she was not completely eliminating the stop and frisk practice, but she was ordering the NYPD to employ it in a way that, she said, would be “more proactive” in establishing effective policing, because the police would be forced to recall protecting the liberty of citizens is also one of their jobs.
“This Opinion does not call for the NYPD to abandon proactive policing and return to an earlier era of less effective police practices. Rather, the relief ordered below requires the NYPD to be even more proactive: proactive not only about crime control and prevention, but also about protecting the constitutional rights of the people the NYPD serves. The public interest will not be harmed by a permanent injunction requiring the NYPD to conform its practices to the Constitution.”This point, about the need for officers of government to give at least, if not more, of their attention to protecting the constitutional rights of citizens as they do to making the job of policing, or surveillance, more convenient, has only rarely been expressed for years now by any of the alleged agents of government oversight.
Judge Sheindlin’s arguments should be taken to heart and mind by every American citizen, and especially by those in government arguing now about whether the massive constitutional infringements being perpetrated by the US federal government in the name of fighting terrorism, shall continue.
For his part, Mayor Bloomberg, utterly rejected Sheindlin’s ruling, saying that the city would appeal, and that the notion of constitutional rights being important was just silly, since infringing those rights was all that was keeping people from being murdered or robbed in New York City:
“People also have a right to walk down the street without being killed or mugged.”Admitting that constitutional liberty, and even equal rights, cannot be safely practiced in the nation’s largest city is consistent with the view of Bloomberg’s NYC as a police state, run for the benefit of rich white people, who are terrified of the notion of unincarcerated black and hispanic citizens walking free in Gotham.