Evan Vucci / AP
Updated at 14:37 ET
A federal judge ordered the Trump administration’s law enforcement commission with blue ribbon on Thursday to stop its work and prevent it from releasing a report until a number of legal requirements are met.
The ruling by senior U.S. District Judge John D. Bates stops work in the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the judiciary less than a month before the deadline for submitting a final report.
President Trump signed a decree establishing the Commission last year to examine the challenges facing law enforcement and society. Attorney General William Barr was given the task of putting the Commission together and getting it off the ground.
From almost the beginning, civil rights groups expressed concern about the Commission, saying its composition and focus was law enforcement and demonstrated a 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 Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the Commission, arguing that it had violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act. This law contains a number of requirements for a federal advisory committee, including that it be “fairly balanced” in the views represented and that its meetings be open to the public.
In his 45-page statement, Bates found that the threshold had not been reached.
“The Commission’s membership consists exclusively of current and former law enforcement officials,” he wrote. “No commissioner has a criminal defense, civil rights or civil society background.”
The judge also found that the Commission’s treatment had been “far from transparent”, which he said was particularly worrying at the moment.
“Especially in 2020, when racial justice and civil justice issues involving law enforcement have erupted across the nation, one can legitimately question whether it is healthy policy to have a group with little diversity of experience investigating behind closed doors. sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today, ”Bates wrote.
The Justice Department declined to comment Thursday.
However, civil rights activists and reformists welcomed the court’s decision.
Miriam Krinsky, Founder and CEO of Fair and Just Prosecution, called the verdict “a victory for all those who work to build a fairer and more just criminal justice system – one based on racial justice, which promotes security and well-being in community . “
“Unfortunately, at a time when law enforcement confidence is at an all – time low,” she said, “this commission represents nothing more than a scam designed to advance a political agenda.”