George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

  (Redirected from Justice in Policing Act of 2020)

The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020 is a civil rights and police reform bill drafted by Democrats in the United States Congress, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus. The legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on June 8, 2020.[1][2] The legislation aims to combat police misconduct, excessive force, and racial bias in policing.[3][4]

George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020
Great Seal of the United States
Full titleTo hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.
Introduced in116th United States Congress
Introduced onJune 8, 2020
Sponsored byKaren Bass
Number of co-sponsors230
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the House as H.R. 7120 by Karen Bass (D-CA) on June 8, 2020
  • Committee consideration by: House Judiciary
  • Passed the House on June 25, 2020 (236–181)
Justice in Policing Act of 2020
Great Seal of the United States
Full titleTo hold law enforcement accountable for misconduct in court, improve transparency through data collection, and reform police training and policies.
Introduced in116th United States Congress
Introduced onJune 8, 2020
Sponsored byCory Booker
Number of co-sponsors36
Legislative history
  • Introduced in the Senate as S. 3912 by Cory Booker (D-NJ) on June 8, 2020
  • Committee consideration by: Senate Judiciary

The bill passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives on a mostly party-line vote of 236–181, but did not advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.[5][6] President Donald Trump opposed the legislation.[6]

BackgroundEdit

The drafting of the legislation was preceded by a series of killings of Black Americans by white police officers and civilians in 2020, including George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, which resulted in a protest movement.[4] However, the proposed legislation contains some provisions that civil rights advocates have long sought.[4]

The bill is named in Floyd's honor.[7]

ProvisionsEdit

The legislation has been described as "sweeping".[6] It would:

  • Grant power to the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to issue subpoenas to police departments as part of "pattern or practice" investigations into whether there has been a "pattern and practice" of bias or misconduct by the department[8]
  • Provide grants to state attorneys general to "create an independent process to investigate misconduct or excessive use of force" by police forces[9]
  • Establish a federal registry of police misconduct complaints and disciplinary actions[9]
  • Enhance accountability for police officers who commit misconduct, by restricting the application of the qualified immunity doctrine for local and state officers,[8][10] and by changing the mens rea (intent) element of 18 U.S.C. § 242 (the federal criminal offense of "deprivation of rights under color of law," which has been used to prosecute police for misconduct) from "willfully" to "knowingly or with reckless disregard"[11]
  • Require federal uniformed police officers to have body-worn cameras[9][4]
  • Require marked federal police vehicles to be equipped with dashboard cameras.[9]
  • Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to "ensure" the use of body-worn and dashboard cameras.[4]
  • Restrict the transfer of military equipment to police[9] (see 1033 program, militarization of police)
  • Require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt anti-discrimination policies and training programs, including those targeted at fighting racial profiling[4]
  • Prohibit federal police officers from using chokeholds or other carotid holds (which led to the deaths of George Floyd and Eric Garner), and require state and local law enforcement agencies that receive federal funding to adopt the same prohibition[4]
  • Prohibit the issuance of no-knock warrants (warrants that allow police to conduct a raid without knocking or announcing themselves) in federal drug investigations, and provide incentives to the states to enact a similar prohibition.[4]
  • Change the threshold for the permissible use of force by federal law enforcement officers from "reasonableness" to only when "necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury."[4]
  • Mandate that federal officers use deadly force only as a last resort and that de-escalation be attempted, and condition federal funding to state and local law enforcement agencies on the adoption of the same policy.[4]

Legislative historyEdit

Drafting and introductionEdit

In the House of Representatives, the legislation has been principally drafted by Representative Karen Bass of California (who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus) and Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York (who chairs the House Judiciary Committee); in the Senate, the legislation has been drafted by Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California, the Senate's two black Democrats.[4][9] The legislation was introduced in the House as H.B. 7120 on June 8, 2020, by Bass, with 165 co-sponsors, all Democrats.[12] The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee, and additionally to the House Armed Services Committee and House Energy and Commerce Committee, for consideration of provisions falling within those committees' jurisdiction.[2] The legislation was introduced in the Senate on the same day as S. 3912, by Booker, with 35 cosponsors.[13] It was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.[14]

Committee hearingsEdit

At a June 10 hearing on police issues in the House Judiciary Committee, George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, testified in favor of police reforms. Also testifying were the Floyd family's attorney Benjamin Crump (invited by the Democrats) and Angela Underwood Jacobs (invited by the Republican, the brother of Federal Protective Service officer David "Patrick" Underwood, who was killed in the line of duty.[15][16][17] Committee Republicans invited conservative Fox News commentator and ex-Secret Service agent Dan Bongino,[17][18] who did not mention police brutality at the hearing and instead focused on dangers faced by police.[18] Committee Republicans also called Darrell C. Scott, a Trump surrogate, to testify.[17]

At a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on June 16, members heard testimony from a number of witnesses, including Vanita Gupta of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights; attorney S. Lee Merritt, who represents the family of Ahmaud Arbery; St. Paul, Minnesota Mayor Melvin Carter; Houston Police Department chief Art Acevedo; and Fraternal Order of Police national president Patrick Yoes.[19] Gupta, who served as head of the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration, testified in favor of police reforms and criticized the Trump Justice Department, while Yoes testified against restricting qualified immunity for police.[20]

Support and oppositionEdit

The legislation is endorsed by more than 100 civil rights groups,[6] including the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, NAACP and NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Urban League, Amnesty International, and National Action Network.[21] The American Civil Liberties Union praised the legislation for taking "significant steps to protect people and ensure accountability against police violence" but expressed opposition to providing "hundreds of millions more to law enforcement" and called for more sweeping changes to "the role of police in our society fundamentally."[22]

Police unions and other organizations representing police oppose the bill.[6] Police organizations are influential in Congress, exerting influence through campaign contributions, endorsements, and lobbying and advocacy efforts, and historically have been successfully in stymieing reform legislation.[23]

Then-President Donald Trump opposed the bill, issuing a formal pledge to veto the legislation if it passed Congress and contending that the bill is "overbroad" and would "weaken the ability of law enforcement agencies to reduce crime."[6] Trump specifically opposed proposals to restrict qualified immunity.[8]

House passageEdit

 
House members after passage of the bill on June 25, 2020

On June 17, 2020, after a nearly 12-hour debate, the House Judiciary Committee advanced the bill to the House floor on a party-line vote (with all Democrats voting yes and all Republicans voting no).[24] On the floor, the bill passed the Democratic-controlled House on a mostly party-line vote of 236–181.[5][6][25] The legislation's key sponsors sought to garner support for the bill from moderate Republicans,[8] but ultimately only three House Republicans (all moderates) joined all House Democrats in voting to pass the bill: Representatives Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, and Will Hurd of Texas (the sole black Republican U.S. Representative).[6] The bill is not expected to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.[5][6]

Congressional gridlockEdit

The bill is not expected to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate, and is thus gridlocked.[26][27] Republican senators led by Tim Scott have proposed alternative police legislation that is far narrower than the House bill.[26][27][28] The Scott bill would introduce incentives for states and localities to change police practices (by limiting chokeholds and promoting the use of body cameras),[28][29] but would not restrict the qualified-immunity doctrine,[28] would not ban chokeholds or otherwise federally restrict police use of deadly force,[28] and would not restrict no-knock warrants.[29] Democrats and civil rights organizations oppose the Senate Republican proposal as too weak;[27][28] Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Cory Booker (the sponsors of the Senate version of the Justice in Policing Act), called the Republican bill "not salvageable" and "so threadbare and lacking in substance that it does not even provide a proper baseline for negotiations."[28] On June 24, 2020, the Senate Republican proposal failed in a procedural vote of 55–45, on a mostly-party line vote, failing to obtain the 60 votes needed to advance to a floor debate.[30] Democrats called upon Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to enter "bipartisan talks to get to a constructive starting point."[28]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Chair Bass, Senators Booker and Harris, and Chair Nadler Introduce the Justice in Policing Act of 2020" (Press release). U.S. House Judiciary Committee. June 8, 2020. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  2. ^ a b "Actions: H.B. 7120 (116th Congress)". Congress.gov.
  3. ^ Claudia Grisales, Susan Davis & Kelsey Snell (June 8, 2020). "In Wake Of Protests, Democrats To Unveil Police Reform Legislation". NPR.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Fandos, Nicholas (June 6, 2020). "Democrats to Propose Broad Bill to Target Police Misconduct and Racial Bias". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  5. ^ a b c House Passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Reuters (June 25, 2020).
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i Catie Edmondson, House Passes Sweeping Policing Bill Targeting Racial Bias and Use of Force, New York Times (June 25, 2020).
  7. ^ Clare Foran, Haley Byrd & Manu Raju, House approves police reform bill named in honor of George Floyd, CNN (June 25, 2020).
  8. ^ a b c d Kane, Paul; Wagner, John (June 8, 2020). "Democrats unveil broad police reform bill, pledge to transform law enforcement". The Washington Post.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Caldwell, Leigh Ann; Shabad, Rebecca (June 8, 2020). "Congressional Democrats unveil sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants in drug cases". NBC News.
  10. ^ Stern, Mark Joseph (June 8, 2020). "Democrats' Police Reform Bill Lets Federal Agents Off the Hook". Slate.
  11. ^ Federal Police Oversight: Criminal Civil Rights Violations Under 18 U.S.C. § 242, Congressional Research Service (June 15, 2020), pp. 1-2, 4.
  12. ^ "Cosponsors: H.B. 7120 (116th Congress)". Congress.gov. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  13. ^ "Cosponsors: S. 3912 (116th Congress)". Congress.gov. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  14. ^ "All Actions: S. 3912 (116th Congress)". Congress.gov. Retrieved June 11, 2020.
  15. ^ Siegel, Benjamin; Cathey, Libby (June 10, 2020). "'Stop the pain': George Floyd's brother testifies on policing reform". ABC News.
  16. ^ Cathey, Libby (June 10, 2020). "5 takeaways from House hearing with George Floyd's brother pleading for policing reform". ABC News.
  17. ^ a b c Cheney, Kyle (June 10, 2020). "'I'm tired': George Floyd's brother pleads for police reforms". Politico.
  18. ^ a b Burns, Katelyn (June 10, 2020). "A Republican witness at a congressional hearing on police brutality didn't mention police brutality". Vox.
  19. ^ Rodgers, Jack (June 16, 2020). "Senate Judiciary Committee Focuses on Police Reform". Courthouse News Service.
  20. ^ Phillips, Amber (June 16, 2020). "5 takeaways from the Senate hearing on policing reform". The Washington Post.
  21. ^ "Civil Rights Leaders' Statement on Justice in Policing Act". yubanet.com (Press release). June 8, 2020. Retrieved June 25, 2020.
  22. ^ "ACLU Statement on Introduction of the Justice in Policing Act of 2020" (Press release). American Civil Liberties Union. June 8, 2020.
  23. ^ Luke Broadwater & Catie Edmondson, Police Groups Wield Strong Influence in Congress, Resisting the Strictest Reforms, New York Times (June 25, 2020).
  24. ^ Sarah Ferris, Heather Caygle, Kyle Cheney & John Bresnahan, House Judiciary panel advances police reform bill after emotional debate, Politico (June 17, 2020).
  25. ^ FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 119: QUESTION: On Passage: BILL TITLE: George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives (June 25, 2020).
  26. ^ a b US House passes 'George Floyd' police reform bill, BBC News (June 26, 2020).
  27. ^ a b c David Morgan, U.S. drive for police reform hamstrung by deadlock in Congress, Reuters (June 23, 2020).
  28. ^ a b c d e f g Catie Edmondson, Senate Democrats Plan to Block G.O.P. Police Bill, Stalling Overhaul, New York Times (June 23, 2020).
  29. ^ a b Seung Min Kim & John Wagner, Senate GOP unveils policing bill that would discourage, but not ban, tactics such as chokeholds and no-knock warrants, Washington Post (June 17, 2020).
  30. ^ Joan E. Greve, Democrats block 'empty' Republican police reform bill, The Guardian (June 24, 2020).

External linksEdit