Last year, the Supreme Court declared the D.C.‘s gun control law unconstitutional (pdf). Now a federal appellate court has unanimously declared that D.C. police’s aggressive “Neighborhood Safety Zone” (NSZ) checkpoint policy is unconstitutional (pdf).
Under the policy, any vehicle entering an area that has been declared a “Neighborhood Safety Zone” by the city’s police chief can be “stopped for the purpose of determining whether the driver has a legitimate reason for entering the NSZ.”
Here’s an excerpt from the appelate court decision:
We further conclude that appellants have sufficiently demonstrated irreparable injury, particularly in light of their strong likelihood of success on the merits. … The harm to the rights of appellants is apparent. It cannot be gainsaid that citizens have a right to drive upon the public streets of the District of Columbia or any other city absent a constitutionally sound reason for limiting their access. As our discussion of the likelihood of success has demonstrated, there is no such constitutionally sound bar in the NSZ checkpoint program. It is apparent that appellants’ constitutional rights are violated. It has long been established that the loss of constitutional freedoms, “for even minimal periods of time, unquestionably constitutes irreparable injury.” …Granted, the District is not currently imposing an NSZ checkpoint, but it has done so more than once, and the police chief has expressed her intent to continue to use the program until a judge stops her.
It’s time for Mayor Adrian Fenty to show Peter Nickles, the Attorney General of the city, to the door. Too many of his ideas have proven to be misguided and contrary to law.