Landmark Civil Rights victory:
D.C. military-style checkpoints are unconstitutional
Sixteen months ago, the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) filed a major lawsuit on behalf of residents of Washington, D.C., who had been stopped in their cars at military-style checkpoints, interrogated by police and prevented from driving onwards even though they were never suspected of committing a crime.
Today, we are pleased to announce that the lawsuit has resulted in a major victory. The U.S. Court of Appeals, in a nearly unanimous decision, upheld the July 10 ruling of a three-judge panel that declared the military-style checkpoints to be unconstitutional. The D.C. government and police sought to overturn that ruling by petitioning for an en banc (full court) re-hearing of the July 10 decision. That petition has now been denied.
This is a landmark victory. If the government had succeeded in this unprecedented expansion of police power, it would have become a model in cities throughout the country. It would have set precedents that would seriously erode many rights that are cherished by the people of this country.
The checkpoints not only permitted the police to stop, seize and interrogate individuals without any probable cause or suspicion of illegal activity. It was used by the government to collect and aggregate data on the movements, activities and associations of law-abiding individuals.
This was a hard-won battle—a victory made possible by the commitment of the plaintiffs and the immense civil rights and civil liberties expertise from the attorneys at the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund. It was the tireless work of these attorneys that secured another important victory in defense of people’s essential rights.
The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund undertakes this type of work pro bono.