In New Jersey, now Maryland, and soon to come in many other states, the ACLU has taken the position that black motorists should only be stopped, charged and convicted in proportion to their numbers compared to other racial groups. The ACLU seeks to divorce this argument from any examination whether blacks are more likely than other racial groups to speed or commit other traffic offenses.
Some of the facts for this article come from an article in the Washington Post on September 30. It concerns a renewed effort by the NAACP and the ACLU to obtain through state courts what they were denied in federal courts, namely access to internal documents of the Maryland State Police on the subject of “racial profiling” in traffic stops and arrests.
The prejudice of the people seeking to get their hands on the internal documents is demonstrated by a comment of the President of the NAACP’s State Conference, “Of course racial profiling is going on. There is a sense of that, yes.”
A similar case was heard in New Jersey, about five years ago. Black drivers were being stopped and arrested for speeding on the New Jersey Turnpike at a rate greater than the proportion of black license holders to other license holders. The ACLU took the position that this fact alone ment there was prejudice against black drivers.
The New Jersey State Police ended that litigation by confessing error, and agreeing to do better in the future. But no one bothered to examine the question of whether black drivers were commiting more than their share of speeding offenses, ane therefore deserved the higher rate of stops, trials and convictions.
Finally, a New Jersey university’s professors and students decided to examine that very question. They used radar guns to check the speed of cars on the Turnpike and camera guns to take pictures of the drivers. They did not take pictures of the license plates, nor seek in any way to identify the drivers personally, or issue any complaints.
The results were quite interesting. It turned out that black drivers were speeding more in proportion to their numbers than were other drivers. It turned out that the stop and arrest rate was statistically equal to the actual speeding rate. There was not, in fact, any racial discrimination.
There was wide press coverage of the NJ Troopers’ confession of error. There was negligible press coverage of the study that found no actual racial discrimination by the troopers in New Jersey.
The Maryland case is currrently before the intermediate state appeals court, en banc. The attempt of the NAACP and ACLU is to get a wide, definitive ruling from that court, so it wil likely be upheld on appeal to Maryland’s highest court, the Court of Appeals.
The same claim is likely to be made in many other states, where the arrest and conviction rates for blacks are higher than their proportion of the population. The ACLU can be expected to argue in all such states that a higher rate of stops and convictions MUST mean racial discrimination, and that it has nothing to do with different tendencies among different racial groups to commit, or not commit, certain crimes.
Carried to its extreme, the ACLU doctrine means that some Asian-Americans should be arrested, convicted and jailed with no evidence of crimes committed, since that racial group is the most law-abiding of all among the US population, and are not proportionately represented in Americas state and federal prisons.
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