A majority of Americans now support police reform measures like chokehold bans, demilitarization of domestic law enforcement, and the prioritization of investigating violent crimes instead of misdemeanor offenses.*
But, perhaps more significantly, a Pew poll recently found two-thirds of Americans oppose qualified immunity, the legal doctrine that makes it difficult to sue police officers when they violate your rights. Until recently, discussion of qualified immunity was confined largely to legal circles and to magazines like Reason.Now, it appears the doctrineand opposition to ithave simultaneously gone mainstream.
Qualified immunity shields public officials from being held liable in federal civil suits if their misconduct did not exist near-identically in a court precedent prior to the alleged incident. Created by Harlow v. Fitzgerald (1982), the doctrine has stripped Americans of their right to sue civil servants even in the most egregious of instances.
In theory, the doctrine provides public officials with fair warning of what is and is not acceptable conduct and thereby allows them to do their jobs without fear of being sued. How does the doctrine actually work? Let's consider the case of two cops from Fresno, California, who allegedly stole $225,000 while executing a search warrant.
When deciding if the victims would be allowed to sue the officers, the judiciary condemned the stealing as indefensible but still protected the officers from any lawsuits. Although "the City Officers ought to have recognized that the alleged theft was morally wrong," wrote the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, it decided that the officers "did not have clear notice that it violated the Fourth Amendment."
Put more plainly: You and I know stealing is wrong, and the cops definitely should've known stealing is wrong. But even if they did know that, they couldn't be held liable for violating the Fourth Amendment protections against government theft because there was no specific legal precedent declaring that it is unconstitutional for cops in a situation exactly like theirs to steal from the people they are sworn to protect and serve.
There are plenty of examples of qualified immunity protecting awful government behavior: The sheriff's deputy who shot a 10-year-old;the cop who shot a 15-year-old; the officers who assaulted and arrested a man for standing outside of his own house; the prison guards who locked a naked inmate in cells filled with raw sewage and "massive amounts" of human feces; the cops who sicced a police dog on a surrendering suspect;the officer who body-slammed a 130-pound woman after she disobeyed his command to "get back there."
But while Americans appear to see the very obvious and well-documented issues with qualified immunity, Congressthe branch of government best positioned to abolish the practicewon't touch the topic with a 10-foot pole.
The legislative stagnation isn't for lack of trying. Rep. Justin Amash (LMich.) introduced legislation to eliminate qualified immunity. With Rep. Ayanna Pressley (DMass.) as his co-sponsor, the bill eventually picked up Republican support. Sen. Mike Braun (RInd.) followed suit and crafted his own legislation, which would grant qualified immunity only to officers whose conduct is expressly permitted by federal regulation, federal statutes, state statutes, or case lawessentially the opposite of the current approach.
President Donald Trump has dismissed these efforts to reform qualified immunity as unworthy of his consideration. He is the law-and-order president, and even though qualified immunity is an insult to both law and order, it is also an insult to police unions.
Should presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden win in November, it's not completely clear what he would do on the issue. "Vice President Biden thinks qualified immunity has gone too far and needs to be severely reined in," says Jamal Brown, National Press Secretary for the Biden campaign. "It should not protect officers who abuse their power." That statement echoes Biden's "Unity Task Force" recommendations, which were drawn up in coordination with Sen. Bernie Sanders (IVt.).
The former vice president has not offered concrete details on how his reforms will distinguish between officials who deserve protection from federal civil lawsuits, but his track record suggests he will go (almost) wherever center-leftists tell him to. In this case, everyone to the left of Trump overwhelmingly supports sunsetting the doctrine.
For now, though, it appears qualified immunity is poised to meet a rather typical fate, in that it will likely stay exactly as it is.
CORRECTION: The original version of this piece misstated the third poll's findings. A majority of Americans support prioritizing violent crimes over misdemeanor crimes, not victimless crimes.
View original post here:
- Govt That Spies Has Insatiable Appetite - KMJ Now - February 4th, 2021
- No-knock search warrants began in Wisconsin, Rep. Myers wants to end them here - Wisconsin Examiner - February 4th, 2021
- Close the Gaps - East Bay Express - February 4th, 2021
- Is Americas Approach to Cannabis Racist? Study Shows Its Worse Than You Think - GreenState - February 4th, 2021
- Federal appeals court allows reporters to sue SWAT officer who tear-gassed them during Ferguson protests - JURIST - February 4th, 2021
- Invoking Scalia, Sotomayor Presses for Broad Fourth Amendment Protections - Reason - October 30th, 2020
- EFF Files Amicus Brief Arguing That Law Enforcement Access to Wi-Fi Derived Location Data Violates the Fourth Amendment - EFF - October 30th, 2020
- Main Points Of The Fourth Amendment To Chinese Patent Law (Approved On October 17, 2020, Effective From June 1, 2021) - Intellectual Property - China... - October 30th, 2020
- Column: Michigan can bring privacy into the 21st century - The Oakland Press - October 30th, 2020
- IMPD dismissed from Dreasjon Reed lawsuit - WTHR - October 30th, 2020
- The Criminal Justice of Amy Coney Barrett - Washington Monthly - October 30th, 2020
- A guide to the statewide constitutional amendments on the ballot in November 2020 - Yellowhammer News - October 30th, 2020
- RUTHS HOSPITALITY GROUP, INC. : Entry into a Material Definitive Agreement, Creation of a Direct Financial Obligation or an Obligation under an... - October 30th, 2020
- Assembly Committee Clears Verrelli & Benson Bill Protecting Employees from Employer Tracking Device Violations - InsiderNJ - October 30th, 2020
- The tyranny of the experts - Leader & Times - October 30th, 2020
- Mike R. Galli is recognized by Continental Who's Who - PRNewswire - October 30th, 2020
- Mail Voting Litigation in 2020, Part II: Submission of Mail-In Ballots - Lawfare - October 30th, 2020
- In its 4th revision to the SEC, Palantir tries to explain what the hell is going on - TechCrunch - September 20th, 2020
- City of Pierre among South Dakota towns ordered to pay a total of $440000 because of forced catheterizations - Drgnews - September 20th, 2020
- Former Torrington officer seeks to have evidence suppressed before trial - Scottsbluff Star Herald - September 20th, 2020
- Council To Have One-Day Session To Learn About Police - The Rhino TImes - September 20th, 2020
- Things to Know Before Your Neighborhood Installs an Automated License Plate Reader - EFF - September 20th, 2020
- Attorney argues Haynes and his brother bribed witness to recant his testimony in 1999 murder case - Kankakee Daily Journal - September 20th, 2020
- Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburgs Lasting Impact on U.S. Traffic Laws - The Art of Gears - September 20th, 2020
- Editorial, August 10, 2020: Your cellphone might be "Big Brother" - Richmond.com - August 10th, 2020
- Legal Brief: Surveillance and the Fourth Amendment - SecurityInfoWatch - August 10th, 2020
- Common Ways to Fight Against a Drug Possession Charge - Student Assembly of the State University of New York - August 10th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts Deciding Vote to Grant Qualified Immunity on First Amendment Retaliation Claim: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People For the... - August 10th, 2020
- Did Judge Reeves Reach the Correct Result in Jamison v. McClendon? - Reason - August 10th, 2020
- The Police Lie. All the Time. Can Anything Stop Them? - Slate - August 10th, 2020
- The Court of Justice of the European Union in Schrems II: The impact of GDPR on data flows and national security - Brookings Institution - August 10th, 2020
- Calls for police reform and racial justice spur a flurry of resolutions before the ABA House - ABA Journal - August 10th, 2020
- Reporters Committee amicus brief in Alasaad v. Wolf - Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press - August 8th, 2020
- Meet the Judge Who Thinks a Black Man Walking Around Is a Crime - Rewire.News - August 8th, 2020
- Who will police Springfields cops? - The Boston Globe - August 8th, 2020
- 'Defund the police' is not a real reform strategy - The Maine Wire - August 8th, 2020
- Assessing Indias obsession with data localisation - Deccan Herald - August 8th, 2020
- How 9/11 and the US Civil War provided the framework for federal agents in Portland - News@Northeastern - August 7th, 2020
- Senators Graham And Blumenthal Can't Even 'Earn' The EARN IT Act: Looking To Sneak Vote Through Without Debate - Techdirt - August 6th, 2020
- The Constitutional Case Against Trumps Use of the Department of Homeland Security - The New Yorker - August 6th, 2020
- 'Trump's Troops Are Breaking the Law and Creating Chaos' - FAIR - August 6th, 2020
- Portland demonstrates that government spying on citizens has become commonplace, and easy - Washington Times - August 6th, 2020
- Plainclothes NYC police grab protester and throw her into unmarked car - WSWS - August 6th, 2020
- Majority of Kingston aldermen view Kingstonian project tax pact favorably, with conditions - The Daily Freeman - August 4th, 2020
- Officers on the street without ID or insignia is dangerous - News-Press Now - August 4th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Fowler Tribune - August 4th, 2020
- What would the Founding Fathers do? - Smoky Mountain News - August 4th, 2020
- How the president became the deporter in chief. - Slate - August 3rd, 2020
- Want To Reform The Police? Get Rid Of Qualified Immunity - WBUR - August 3rd, 2020
- Who is Zane James, why were his brother and father detained by police in Cottonwood Heights protest? - MEAWW - August 3rd, 2020
- Unpacking DHS's Troubling Explanation of the Portland Van Video - Lawfare - August 1st, 2020
- Capitol Hill grilling of tech CEOs highlights expansion of 'geofence warrants' - WRAL.com - August 1st, 2020
- R Sikoryaks latest project is a word-for-word adaptation of the U.S. Constitution - Boing Boing - August 1st, 2020
- FBI bulletin exposes another crack in ELD mandate - Land Line - Land Line Media - August 1st, 2020
- Analysis: Is Trump stretching the law to deploy federal police power in cities? - wenatcheeworld.com - July 31st, 2020
- NRA and Tea Party: Where are you now? - Greensboro News & Record - July 31st, 2020
- Fourth Amendment | United States Constitution | Britannica - July 30th, 2020
- Fourth Amendment - the Text, Origins, and Meaning - July 30th, 2020
- "It's the decent thing to do" - News - Pueblo Chieftain - July 30th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Reverse District Court Ruling to Suppress Evidence Obtained in Violation of the Fourth Amendment: Confirmed... - July 29th, 2020
- Trump Judge Casts the Deciding Vote to Give Qualified Immunity to Officers Who Violated Fourth Amendment: Confirmed Judges, Confirmed Fears - People... - July 29th, 2020
- How does the Fourth Amendment apply to my child while at school? - Lawyers.com Blog - July 29th, 2020
- Ga. voters will decide thorny 'sovereign immunity' issue this fall - Georgia Recorder - July 29th, 2020
- Shot Twice in the Back: A Case Tests the Fleeing Felon Defense - The New York Times - July 29th, 2020
- Wronged by the Police? How to Defend Your Rights - Legal Reader - July 29th, 2020
- The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Greensburg Daily News - July 29th, 2020
- Someone who cared about safe cities would try to bring calm to chaos. Trump is doing the opposite to bolster his law-and-order reelection campaign. -... - July 29th, 2020
- Here's Why Cities Won't Be Able to Stop Trump's Secret Police - VICE - July 29th, 2020
- Radio Diary: A Harvard Law Professor Explains Why Federal Officers' Tactics In Portland Are Unlawful - WBUR - July 26th, 2020
- Two DHS Officials Apparently Just Admitted Their Troops Have Been Violating the Constitution - Law & Crime - July 26th, 2020
- John Krull: The innocents at home, anti-mask tales of purity - Terre Haute Tribune Star - July 26th, 2020
- Protester in Portland sues Trump for 'conspiracy to violate the U.S. Constitution' after alleged attack by feds - Pamplin Media Group - July 26th, 2020
- The Federal Coup to Overthrow the States and Nix the 10th Amendment Is Underway - River Cities Reader - July 26th, 2020
- LETTERS TO THE - Central Wisconsin News - Tribune Phonograph - July 26th, 2020
- Oregon sues US agencies over protest arrests; what gave feds authority to intervene? - ABA Journal - July 26th, 2020
- Can use of force restrictions change police behavior? Heres what we know - PBS NewsHour - July 26th, 2020
- Judge refuses to dismiss claims Balch Springs police violated rights of murdered teen Jordan Edwards - The Dallas Morning News - July 25th, 2020
- East Bay Homeless Living On Caltrans Property May Be Entitled To Cash - KALW - July 25th, 2020
- As journalism jobs decrease, the future of the discipline might depend on general education - Poynter - July 25th, 2020
- Trenton cop found a flask inside a councilwoman's car after crash, tried covering it up - The Trentonian - July 25th, 2020