Earlier this week, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF), Bronx Defenders, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Legal Aid Society, and New York Civil Liberties Union filed an amicus brief in the case United States v. Calvin Weaver.

Mr. Weaver was a passenger in a car that was pulled over for a traffic violation. With his hands on his gun, an officer ordered Mr. Weaver out of the car, and ordered him to assume the position: stand spread-eagle and lean over the car so he could be frisked. A divided panel of the Second Circuit found that the search commenced at the moment that the officer gave the verbal command to “assume the position,” rather than at the moment the officer put his hand on Mr. Weaver’s body, based on Fourth Amendment law that focuses on how a reasonable person would interpret the command. Here, the Court opined, a reasonable person would determine that a frisk was about to occur as soon as the officer gave the verbal command to “assume the position.” The dissent would have held that the search did not begin until the officer physically placed his hand on Mr. Weaver’s body and that the officers’ verbal directives were just minimal intrusions on Mr. Weaver’s liberty. The Second Circuit vacated the panel to rehear the case en banc, requesting an amicus briefing to determine whether a “frisk” begins before the moment of physical contact.

Citing evidence from past stop-and-frisk cases, LDF’s brief argues that the humiliation of being ordered to “assume the position” on a public sidewalk is not a minimal intrusion as the dissent suggests, but these incidents cause lasting psychological harm to Black and Latinx communities who are overpoliced.

Read the full brief here.


Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on TwitterInstagram and Facebook.