Publication Date

4-16-2012

Abstract

[Excerpt] Racial profiling is the practice of targeting individuals for police or security detention based on their race or ethnicity in the belief that certain minority groups are more likely to engage in unlawful behavior. Examples of racial profiling by federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies are illustrated in legal settlements and data collected by governmental agencies and private groups, suggesting that minorities are disproportionately the subject of routine traffic stops and other security-related practices. The issue has periodically attracted congressional interest, particularly with regard to existing and proposed legislative safeguards, which include the proposed End Racial Profiling Act of 2011 (H.R. 3618/S. 1670) in the 112th Congress. Several courts have considered the constitutional ramifications of the practice as an “unreasonable search and seizure” under the Fourth Amendment and, more recently, as a denial of the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection guarantee. A variety of federal and state statutes provide potential relief to individuals who claim that their rights are violated by race-based law enforcement practices and policies.

Comments

Suggested Citation
Feder, J. (2012). Racial profiling: Legal and constitutional issues. Washington, DC: Congressional Research Service.

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