'Stand Your Ground' Laws To Be Scrutinized For Racial Bias By Civil Rights Commission: WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted on Friday to launch an investigation into whether "Stand Your Ground" laws around the country have a racial bias.
These statutes gained attention after the February 2012 fatal shooting of Travyon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager. Authorities initially refused to arrest neighborhood watch leader George Zimmerman, who is accused of shooting Martin, citing Florida's Stand Your Ground law. These measures allow individuals to stand their ground and use deadly force in self-defense, with no obligation to first attempt to retreat.
During a meeting in downtown Washington, D.C., on Friday, the commission approved the investigation in a 5-3 vote, with one Republican commissioner joining the four Democrats. The board is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, although two of the GOP members identify as independent after an attempt during the George W. Bush administration to stack the board. (The commission's charter says no more than four members can belong to the same political party.)