Evan Vucci / AP
Updated at 2:37 p.m. ET
A federal judge on Thursday ordered the Trump administration’s law enforcement commission to cease operations and banned it from publishing a report until a number of legal requirements are met.
Senior District Judge John D. Bates’ verdict will suspend the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and Justice Administration less than a month before the deadline for final reporting.
President Trump signed an ordinance last year creating the commission to study the challenges law enforcement agencies and communities face. Attorney General William Barr was hired to put the commission together and get it going.
From the outset, civil rights groups expressed concern about the Commission, saying its composition and focus were law enforcement-centered and showing contempt for police reform efforts. Critics noted that one of the Commission’s working groups was entitled “Respect for Law Enforcement”.
In April, the NAACP’s Legal Protection and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the commission on the grounds that it violated the law of the Federal Advisory Council. This law contains a number of requirements for a federal advisory council, including that it be “fairly balanced” from the viewpoints represented and that its meetings be open to the public.
In his 45-page statement, Bates stated that the threshold had not been reached.
“The membership of the commission consists entirely of current and former law enforcement officers,” he wrote. “No commissioner has a background in criminal defense, civil rights or community organization.”
The judge also found that the Commission’s procedure was “far from transparent”, which he believes is particularly worrying at the moment.
“Especially in 2020, when issues of racial justice and civil rights related to law enforcement agencies have broken out across the country, one can rightly ask oneself whether it is a sensible policy for a group with little experience to investigate sensitive legal issues behind closed doors Enforcement and the Criminal Justice System in America Today, “wrote Bates.
The Justice Department declined to comment on Thursday.
Civil rights activists and reform lawyers, however, welcomed the court’s decision.
Miriam Krinsky, founder and executive director of Fair and Just Prosecution, described the ruling as “a victory for those who work to build a fairer and more equitable criminal justice system – one that is based on racial justice and promotes the safety and well-being of the community.” . “
“Unfortunately, at a time when trust in law enforcement is lower than ever,” she said, “this commission is nothing more than a sham trial designed to advance a political agenda.”