Written by Don Byrd
A federal judge last week granted the City of New York’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the Police Department’s practice of targeting Muslim communities for surveillance, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The secret program, which included surveillance of Muslim houses of worship, came to light through an Associated Press report in early 2012. The plaintiffs filed suit a few months later.
In dismissing their case, the judge found the plaintiffs lack standing to bring the suit because their failed to establish that their injury was the result of targeted discrimination. From the ruling (pdf), (via Religion Clause):
[T]he Plaintiffs in this case have not alleged facts from which it can be plausibly inferred that they were targeted solely because of their religion. The more likely explanation for the surveillance was a desire to locate budding terrorist conspiracies. The most obvious reason for so concluding is that surveillance of the Muslim community began just after the attacks of September 11,2001. The police could not have monitored New Jersey for Muslim terrorist activities without monitoring the Muslim community itself. While this surveillance Program may have had adverse effects upon the Muslim community after the Associated Press published its articles; the motive for the Program was not solely to discriminate against Muslims, but rather to find Muslim terrorists hiding among ordinary, law-abiding Muslims.
Does that logic work for you? The plaintiffs were not targeted solely because of their religion; they were targeted solely because their religion is the same as a small group of terrorists? For what it’s worth, the NYPD claims to have discontinued this operation.
This case is separate from a similar lawsuit subsequently filed by the ACLU challenging the practice.