NEW YORK—The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New York City, reauthorized the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy today, issuing a stay against a lower court ruling that declared the practice unconstitutional. The appeals court also removed the district judge, Shira Scheindlin, from the case, a highly unusual move. The court said Scheindlin had “run afoul of the code of conduct” governing judges “by a series of interviews and public statements” she gave after her ruling that showed a bias against the city.
“Accordingly, we conclude that, in the interest, and appearance, of fair and impartial administration of justice, upon remand, these cases shall be assigned to a different district judge,” the court wrote.
Scheindlin declared the stop-and-frisk policy unconstitutional because it tended to target minorities. She also ordered reforms in the police department, like an outside monitor and a program for police officers to wear cameras for stops.
The city appealed Scheindlin’s ruling to the 2nd Circuit, and the court set dates to hear arguments on the merits of the case in March 2014. For now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly can continue to use stop-and-frisk policing. But the likely mayor of New York come January, Democrat Bill de Blasio, opposes the stop-and-frisk policy and would probably drop the appeal.
“I’m extremely disappointed in today’s decision,” de Blasio said in a statement issued late today. “We shouldn’t have to wait for reforms that both keep our communities safe and obey the Constitution. We have to end the overuse of stop and frisk—and any delay only means a continued and unnecessary rift between our police and the people they protect.”
The controversial policy has become a central issue in the mayoral race, set to be decided on Tuesday: Unlike de Blasio, Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota supports stop and frisk.