Evan Vucci / AP
Updated at 2:37 pm ET
A federal judge ordered a law enforcement commission with a blue ribbon by the Trump administration on Thursday to stop its work and ban it from issuing a report until a series of legal requirements are met.
The decision from Senior US District Judge John D. Bates halted the work of the Presidential Commission on Law Enforcement and the Administration of Justice less than a month before its deadline to deliver a final report.
President Trump signed an executive order creating a commission last year to study the challenges law enforcement and communities face. Attorney General William Barr’s lawyer discussed the commission’s merger and land acquisition.
From the very beginning, civil rights groups have expressed concern about the commission, saying its composition and focus are law enforcement and has shown contempt for police reform efforts. One of the commission’s working groups, cited by critics, is entitled “Respect for Law Enforcement.”
In April, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit against the commission, arguing that it violated the Law in the Federal Advisory Committee. That law carries a number of requirements for a federal advisory committee, including that it is “fairly balanced” with representative views and that its meetings are open to the public.
In his 45-page opinion, Bates found that the threshold had not yet been met.
“The membership of the commission is made up of all current and former law enforcement officers,” he wrote. “No commissioner has a criminal defense, civil rights or community organization background.”
The judge also found that the commission’s proceedings were “far from transparent,” which he said was of particular concern today.
“Especially in 2020, when issues of racial justice and civil rights involving law enforcement explode nationwide, it may be legitimate to ask if it is a good policy to have a team with minimal diversity of experience to examine, behind closed doors, the sensitive issues facing law enforcement and the criminal justice system in America today, “Bates wrote.
The Department of Justice declined to comment on Thursday.
However, advocates for civil rights and reform accepted the court’s decision.
Miriam Krinsky, founder and executive director of the Fair Prosecution, called the ruling “a victory for all those working towards building a more just and equitable criminal legal system – based on racial equity and promoting safety and well-being of the community. “
“Sadly, at a time when law enforcement confidence is at its lowest ebb,” he said, “this commission represents nothing more than a continuing fraud designed to further expand a political agenda.”