President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have little if any power to compel states to dial back “stand your ground” laws the two have criticized in the wake of George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
While the Justice Department may review the case and could seek civil rights charges against Zimmerman, experts say the federal government has little recourse with the stand your ground laws themselves.
“There’s little the Department of Justice can do,” UCLA law professor Adam Winkler told The Hill.
“States are allowed to have their own criminal laws, including self-defense laws,” Winker said. “DOJ may be able to pursue civil rights charges in individual cases, but it has no authority to overturn state laws.”
The stand your ground laws in two dozen states around the country have come under national scrutiny in the wake of last week’s acquittal of Zimmerman, a volunteer neighborhood watchman, in Martin’s shooting death.