Court Approves Civil Rights Lawsuit Against NYPD for Spying on Muslims

By Kenrya Rankin Oct 15, 2015

It looks like the New York Police Department (NYPD) is not yet off the hook for employing a dedicated “Demographics Unit” to spy on Muslims in New Jersey for nearly a decade.

This week, a three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said that a civil rights lawsuit that several groups brought against the NYPD in 2012—“to affirm the principle that individuals may not be singled out for intrusive investigation and pervasive surveillance that cause them continuing harm simply because they profess a certain faith”—can continue.

The district court ruled last year that the police did not violate the rights of those under surveillance and thew out the suit, but the panel’s decision reverses that ruling and sends it back to the lower court.

In the conclusion to the panel’s opinion, Judge Thomas L. Ambro wrote: 

What occurs here in one guise is not new. We have been down similar roads before. Jewish-Americans during the Red Scare, African-Americans during the Civil Rights Movement, and Japanese-Americans during World War II are examples that readily spring to mind. We are left to wonder why we cannot see with foresight what we see so clearly with hindsight—that “[l]oyalty is a matter of the heart and mind[,] not race, creed, or color.” 

(H/t NPR