House lawmakers on June 10 passed the fiscal year 2015 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, which included an amendment sponsored by Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to prohibit states that receive federal transportation funding from engaging in unconstitutional profiling.
The bill passed in a 229-192 vote.
“My amendment enforces section 2000(d) of the act,” Norton said in a statement introducing the amendment on the House floor. “It would require that no funds would be available or used to stop, investigate, detain, or arrest people on highways based on their physical appearance in violation of the Fifth and 14th Amendments and title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
According to Norton, a Department of Labor report found Whites are stopped at a rate of 3.6 percent, but Blacks and Hispanics are stopped at rates of at 9.5 percent and 8.8 percent, respectively.
Norton said she sponsored a transportation amendment in 2005 that gave Federal grants to states for stopping racial profiling. She said almost half of the states participated, but the amendment was not continued in 2009.
According to a study, “Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia, 2009-2011,” released last year, traffic violations were the most frequent cause of arrests in each year, accounting for about 22 percent of arrests in 2009 and 24 percent of arrests in both 2010 and 2011. Of those, arrests of African Americans comprised three-quarters of arrests in 2009 and 2010. African Americans arrested in 2011 accounted for 69.4 percent.
“Considering our country’s history and increasing diversity, we are late in barring profiling at the national level,” Norton said. “At the very least, Federal taxpayers should not be compelled to subsidize the unconstitutional practice of profiling by law enforcement officials in the States.”
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