On Feb. 20, a U.S. district judge dismissed a lawsuit challenging the New York Police Department’s widespread surveillance of Muslim Americans in New Jersey. But just six months earlier, a Manhattan federal court issued a historic ruling against the same department’s stop-and-frisk program, declaring the city’s targeting of black and Hispanic communities unconstitutional. How can the same police department be guilty of bias in one case but not the other?
The word “counterterrorism” has long been known to make room for certain allowances in our legal landscape. However, Judge William J. Martini’s ruling in Hassan v. City of New York, brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on June 6, 2012, sets a particularly dangerous precedent for cases involving counterterrorism institutions that violate individual rights. It suggests that under the national security rubric, the government is absolved of the responsibility to protect the rights of all citizens equally.