UPDATE 2/14/2018: Read our statement on the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling.
In Commonwealth v. Buckley, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) is addressing whether pretextual stops – traffic stops in which a police officer uses a traffic violation as an excuse to stop a driver that the officer wants to stop for other reasons – are allowed by the state constitution.
In October 2017, the ACLU of Massachusetts urged the SJC in an amicus (friend of the court) brief to declare the practice unreasonable and unconstitutional, because it enables racial profiling and put people of color at risk of police violence.
As the brief explains, Black and Latino people are disproportionately pulled over for minor traffic violations and may be subject to suspicionless interrogations—and those stops can be deadly. The deaths of Philando Castille and Walter Scott are tragic examples of this problem.