New York City's Stop-and-Frisk Appeals Are Still Alive

Brooklyn Law School Practicum (online companion to Brooklyn Law School’s print journals), 2013

10 Pages Posted: 22 Dec 2013 Last revised: 27 Jun 2014

Date Written: December 20, 2013

Abstract

This essay challenges the assumption that the decision that the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk practices are unconstitutional will stand. Mayor-elect Bill De Blasio, who takes office on January 1, 2014, has signaled that he will direct the City attorneys charged with appealing and overturning Judge Scheindlin’s orders to go no further. But the City’s cause is not hopeless. A basic argument weighs in its favor: the stop-and-frisk plaintiffs may lack standing to request the vast relief the court ordered. Moreover, a standing challenge is never waived.

The most obvious problem with the district court’s findings that the Ligon and Floyd plaintiffs have standing involves its application of City of Los Angeles v. Lyons. Whereas most federal courts “simply follow the rule announced in Lyons to deny standing,” Floyd and Ligon seem to deliberately ignore it. Yet the outcome — granting standing to civil rights plaintiffs challenging unconstitutional police action — is not indefensible. This is especially true in light of the myriad problems the Lyons opinion presents. But because Lyons is still good law, the way to overcome it is not to pretend it isn’t there. District court opinions that seek to make fundamental changes to the law of standing cannot rest on analyses that disregard binding precedent, especially when the rights at stake are so crucial.

Keywords: stop-and-frisk; Fourth Amendment; Standing; Article III; Scheindlin; SDNY

JEL Classification: K14; K40; K41

Suggested Citation

Macfarlane, Katherine, New York City's Stop-and-Frisk Appeals Are Still Alive (December 20, 2013). Brooklyn Law School Practicum (online companion to Brooklyn Law School’s print journals), 2013. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2370556

Katherine Macfarlane (Contact Author)

University of Idaho College of Law ( email )

P.O. Box 442321
Moscow, ID 83844-2321
United States

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