In a major blow to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s much-touted policing agenda, a judge has declared the NYPD’s controversial stop-and-frisk policy in violation of constitutional rights.
“[T]he City adopted a policy of indirect racial profiling by targeting racially defined groups for stops based on local crime suspect data,” ruled the federal judge, Shira Scheindlin. “This has resulted in the disproportionate and discriminatory stopping of blacks and Hispanics in violation of the Equal Protection Clause.”
Christine Quinn, who is vying to become New York City’s first openly gay mayor, quickly summed up her feelings this morning in an MSNBC interview. She was reacting, of course, to the Supreme Court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act. She quickly pivoted to the New York roots of the case that overturned DOMA, United States v. Windsor.
In a major victory for gay rights, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act this morning, ruling the 1996 law unconstitutional. Same-sex married couples are now entitled to the same federal status as other married couples, such as in regard to income taxes and Social Security.
The case, United States v. Windsor, is based on a New York woman, Eddie Windsor, who married her spouse, Thea Clara Spyer in Canada. Upon Ms. Spyer’s death in 2009, Ms. Windsor inherited her estate and was taxed as if they were unmarried. In their decision today, the Supreme Court ruled that DOMA created a separate and unequal class of citizens in cases such as this.
Earlier today, the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which defined which jurisdictions needed federal clearance for voting law changes before implementation. Because three New York counties–Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx–fell under Section 4’s formula, today’s ruling effectively removes the pre-clearance standard from any voting changes that affect the city or state.
Put in simpler terms, changes to New York’s election law will no longer face the potential obstacle of automatic federal intervention. For example, any lawsuit against the recent decision to shift this year’s run-off election date back a week and allow the city to return to levered voting machines would be unlikely to succeed before Election Day on September 10, redistricting attorney Jeff Wice told Politicker this morning.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took to the airwaves today to denounce the Defense of Marriage Act on legal grounds, arguing that it will be ruled unconstitutional because it “discriminates” against New York State’s recognition of same-sex marriages. The high-profile case is set to go before the Supreme Court later this week.