The House passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020, a broad reform measure addressing use of force, racial and religious bias and national police standards. The legislation passed the House 236–181.
- Bans chokeholds and no-knock warrants
- Creates a national registry of police misconduct by all federal, state and local law enforcement
- Changes the mens rea standard of “willful” to “knowingly or with reckless disregard”
- Prohibits federal, state and local law enforcement from racial, religious and discriminatory profiling
- Establishes a training program to cover racial and implicit bias, procedural justice and the duty to intervene, which would be mandated at the federal level
- Enables individuals to recover damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights
The legislation moved quickly in the Democratic-controlled House. It was introduced in early June in response to the killing of George Floyd by the police and the ensuing public outcry. After a contentious mark-up in the Judiciary Committee, chaired by New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, the bill moved quickly to the House Floor where no substantive changes were made.
The action now moves to the Republican-controlled Senate where its future is uncertain. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has declared the House-passed bill a non-starter in the Senate and instead supports the Senate Republican measure.
Senate Democrats, led by New York Senator Chuck Schumer, blocked consideration of the Republican measure, arguing it does not provide meaningful reforms. It is unclear how this partisan stalemate will be resolved.
Congress will break for the summer recess later in July and return after Labor Day and in the final throes of a bitter election cycle.
Hilary Jochmans is NYSBA’s director of policy. She writes about legislation that is of interest to members.