The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights voted on Friday to review so-called “Stand Your Ground” laws nationwide to determine if they have a racial bias.
According to Ryan J. Reilly of Talking Points Memo, the commission voted 5-3 in favor of reviewing laws like the one cited as a defense by George Zimmerman, the man accused of shooting and killing Trayvon Martin. The laws, which permit citizens to use deadly force when they feel threatened, have come under intense scrutiny since Martin’s death.
All four Democratic appointees on the panel, along with one Republican appointee voted in favor of the investigation.
“Ultimately we need to know whether or not, all other factors being equal, the race of the victim or the perpetrator plays a role in determining the application of these laws,” Commissioner Michael Yaki said, according to TPM.
At least 23 states have some form of legislation resembling Florida’s now infamous law and, because of vague wording, the exact limits on such laws are oftentimes unclear. A Texas man, for example, argued in court Wednesday that he was “standing his ground” when he shot and killed a school teacher over a noise complaint.