On March 1, 2021, legislation went into effect in Virginia limiting pretextual stops and searches. 'Pretextual policing' is a massive loophole in the 4th Amendment, allowing police to stop motorists for any reason — even explicit racial bias — as long as they come up with a good enough cover story. Virginia clamped down on the practice by disallowing traffic stops based on some of the most abused pretexts: air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror, broken tag lights, etc.
This has long been known by civil libertarians and criminal justice reformers as a gross perversion of the 4th Amendment, and a significant loophole that in practice means Black people have fewer Fourth Amendment rights than white people. Indeed, Black Virginians are nearly TWICE as likely to be pulled over by the police as white Virginians, and once stopped, nearly THREE times as likely to have their vehicles searched.
Data obtained as a result of Virginia's Community Policing Act already shows racial disparities in traffic stops are narrowing, without impacting public safety. Virginia's historic bill was the first of its kind and is now a model for similar legislation throughout the U.S.
Until recently, ensuring the strength of the Bill of Rights was never a partisan matter. Criminal justice reformers, racial justice advocates, civil libertarians, small government Republicans, and constitutional conservatives alike ALL supported broad protections from unnecessary government interference in the lives of citizens, and therefore strong protections against arbitrary and biased police stops and searches.