A federal appeals court rejected New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) last-ditch attempt preserve his stop-and-frisk program before he leaves office, ruling Friday that it will not disturb the lower court ruling against the New York Police Department before oral arguments scheduled for next year.
The oral argument dates will come too late for Bloomberg as he finishes out his term as mayor. If Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio (D) follows through on his commitment to drop the appeal to the case, Friday’s ruling will likely be the end to litigation over the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk program, and signal a final win in the long battle to curb misuse of the program that made more stops of young black men in 2011 than there are young black men in New York City.
After months of trial from more than 100 witnesses, U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin held in August that the NYPD engaged in unconstitutional racial profiling in its stop-and-frisk program. In a ruling that shocked many in the legal ethics community, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit removed Scheindlin from the case going forward, and said she violated ethics rules. Bloomberg seized on that finding to argue that the ruling should be invalidated even before arguments — ostensibly before the end of his term — because Scheindlin’s alleged violations had tainted the case.
But days later, the appeals court clarified its earlier opinion, and said it didn’t mean to say that Scheindlin violated any ethics rules after all. On Friday, the appeals panel held that because this more recent ruling “superceded” its original finding of ethics violations, Bloomberg’s motion must be denied.
Scheindlin’s ruling requires federal monitoring of the stop-and-frisk program, in addition to other reforms. But now that Scheindlin has been removed from the case, it would be another judge that would oversee enforcement if the ruling is not invalidated.