1976 January 22

Supreme Court Rejects Injunctions Against Police Misconduct


In Rizzo v. Goode, the Supreme Court on this day rejected a request for an injunction against misconduct by the Philadelphia Police Department. The decision severely limited the role of the federal courts in ordering remedies to end police misconduct.

Section 14141 of the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, passed on September 13, 1994, however, authorizes the U.S. Justice Department to bring civil suits that demand remedies when there is a “pattern or practice” of abuse of people’s rights. Under Section 14141, the Special Litigation Section of the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department has maintained an active program of investigations and lawsuits that have required major reforms in local police department, including Los Angeles, the New Jersey State Police, Cincinnati, and others.

See, for example, the blistering Justice Department report on Ferguson, Missouri, released on March 4, 2015.

Learn more about police misconduct: Samuel Walker and Carol Archbold, The New World of Police Accountability, 2nd ed. (2014)

Watch the famous video of Los Angeles police beating Rodney King in 1991: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SW1ZDIXiuS4

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