ACLU’s Surprise Move Relating to DOJ’s Zimmerman Investigation

George Zimmerman arrives in the courtroom for his trial at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, in Sanford, Fla., Friday, July 12, 2013. Zimmerman is charged in the 2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Orlando Sentinel, Joe Burbank, Pool)

The American Civil Liberties Union has pulled its initial statement on the George Zimmerman verdict from the group’s website. The statement, from ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero, urged the U.S. Department of Justice to carry out a civil rights and hate crimes investigation relating to the death of Trayvon Martin.

The group was criticized for taking that position as official ACLU policy reportedly opposes federal retrials in cases already tried in state courts.

Politico’s Josh Gerstein writes:

That policy, rejecting such successive trials as a violation of the Constitution’s double jeopardy clause, was settled on following a fractious debate in the early 1990s over the Rodney King case.

The withdrawal of the initial statement on the Zimmerman verdict appears to leave a letter last week from the ACLU to Attorney General Eric Holder as the operative version of the group’s views on the case. That letter from ACLU Washington office director Laura Murphy says the group opposes a retrial but endorses other measures the organization believes can reduce racial profiling and related violence.

While the main link to the initial statement has been removed, it is still available at this writing on the ACLU’s Bill of Rights blog. In addition, the group’s San Diego affiliate has up a version of the statement sanitized of the call for a federal investigation into Zimmerman’s actions.

The ACLU has yet to address its recent decision to yank the initial statement on the Zimmerman verdict.