Qualified Immunity

Maybe Cops Should Be 'Pulling Back'

Abolishing qualified immunity is a crucial step in holding police accountable for violating our rights.


Attorney General William Barr worries that making it easier to sue cops for abusing their powers "would result certainly in police pulling back." White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany calls the idea a "nonstarter."

Americans who have watched the horrifying video showing now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes while ignoring the prone, handcuffed man's desperate pleas, past the point where he stopped moving and no longer had a detectable pulse, might reasonably conclude that some "pulling back" by police is exactly what we need. And once Americans understand the legally reinforced culture of impunity that encourages such abuses, they might view the reform peremptorily rejected by McEnany as a good start rather than a nonstarter.

In other contexts, Barr recognizes the importance of litigation in protecting constitutional rights. He has repeatedly warned that COVID-19 control measures can violate the First Amendment when they discriminate against religious activities and has supported churches challenging such regulations.

Those lawsuits rely on 42 U.S.C. 1983, which allows people to sue anyone who, under color of law, violates their constitutional or statutory rights. Beginning in 1967, the Supreme Court has read into that law exceptions for government officials who act in "good faith" or whose conduct does not violate "clearly established" rights.

Such "qualified immunity"—especially under the latter exception, which the Court invented in 1982—has in many cases prevented victims of police abuse from pursuing their claims. In practice, it often means victims' lawsuits will be dismissed unless they can cite precedents with nearly identical facts.

Plaintiffs have found it increasingly difficult to locate such rulings since 2009, when the justices said courts can dismiss their lawsuits without even deciding whether their rights were violated. As Don Willett, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, observes, "important constitutional questions go unanswered precisely because those questions are yet unanswered."

Did Idaho cops violate the Fourth Amendment when they wrecked a woman's home by bombarding it with tear gas grenades after she agreed to let them inside to arrest her former boyfriend? What about the Georgia sheriff's deputy who shot a 10-year-old boy while trying to kill his dog after police chased a suspect into their yard?

We don't know the answers, because appeals courts dismissed those cases without resolving the constitutional questions they posed. Likewise with the Nebraska sheriff's deputy who, while responding to an erroneous "domestic assault" report, lifted the purported victim in a bear hug and threw her to the ground, knocking her unconscious and breaking her collarbone; the Tennessee officer who allegedly sicced a police dog on a burglary suspect who had already surrendered and was sitting on the ground with his hands up; and the California cops who allegedly stole cash and property worth more than $225,000 while executing a search warrant.

As UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz notes, such decisions "deny what is often the best available relief to plaintiffs who have been grievously wronged by government actors, suggest to government officials that they can violate the law with impunity, and send the troubling message to victims of misconduct that they are not deserving of constitutional protection." Or as Willett puts it, "qualified immunity smacks of unqualified impunity, letting public officials duck consequences for bad behavior—no matter how palpably unreasonable—as long as they were the first to behave badly."

Justices Clarence Thomas, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg—who don't agree on much else—also have expressed concern about qualified immunity. Rather than rely on the Supreme Court to reconsider that doctrine, Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) last week introduced a bill that would abolish it, as would a broader package of police reforms that House Democrats unveiled this week.

This should not be a partisan issue. As Amash points out, "Members of Congress have a duty to ensure government officials can be held accountable for violating Americans' rights, and ending qualified immunity is a crucial part of that."

© Copyright 2020 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

NEXT: New York Legislature Repeals Notorious Police Secrecy Law

Qualified Immunity Police Abuse Litigation Search and Seizure Fourth Amendment Supreme Court George Floyd Justin Amash William Barr Criminal Justice

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137 responses to “Maybe Cops Should Be 'Pulling Back'

  1. Qualified Immunity is not a “Police Issue”, it is bad law created by our judiciary. It covers all government acts, not just local beat cops

    1. But Reason likes it for the good Top Men and their mandarins

      1. If they are good enough for a Georgetown Cocktail Party with the Strzok-Pages they are good enough to have QI.

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      2. Can you link to a single article at Reason where they support QI?

        By the way your hero, Donald Trump, seems to be all for it. Police reform is a “nonstarter” at this point… really? He may have just cost himself re-election against all odds. Even showing the faintest support for protecting the system that led to George Floyd right now is bad politics. There is a gray area here between “defund the police” and the status quo. If Republicans don’t find some reforms they can support while the Democrats are being forced to defend the “defund” nonsense, then they are going to be disappointed in November.

        1. Yeah, if only Trump would take a first step in the right direction all you Progs would admire his courage.

          1. I admire his work on criminal justice reform prior to this. That took courage and leadership.

            You should look up the Nolan Chart sometime. The false dichotomy of left/right has you thinking that anyone who isn’t a conservative must be a progressive.

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        2. I support strict liability for LEOs.

          1. What did I do to you?

        3. I’d look stronger at scaling back on QI, but only if politicians did it for themselves as well. Bleeding heart judges and parole boards that purposely put the community at significant risk from repeat offenders should be personally liable for their malfeasance. City council/state lawmakers who vote to disarm the public while they are surrounded by personal protection, exempt themselves from laws the rest of us must abide by, profiteer through their position, cronyism, and create personal legacy with no regard to obvious cost discrepancies should have to pay with more than just the potential to lose the vote next time around.

    2. QI is terrible mistake, created by judicial activism on the part of conservative SCOTUS justices. But it’s also important to realize that it covers only the ability to sue in civil court public officials for violating constitutional rights. It’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card, it doesn’t prevent criminal prosecution of government official and it won’t keep Chauvin out of jail.

    3. If the public finally woke up to acknowledge the police state, do they know how to fix it? I doubt it. Why? “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil, for every one hacking at the root.” Henry David Thoreau
      Only striking the root cause, authoritarianism, i.e., putting violence before reason by initiating it, threatening it against all, most of whom are innocent, but all deserve to be considered innocent until proven guilty by due process, not “trial by cop”.
      When authority, i.e., the public sector, is judged like the private sector, not by a double standard that deifies it, then reason, rights, and choice will reign, instead of demigods.

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  2. Instead of police reforms why don’t we have law reforms? You know make actions that don’t involve initiating force like using drugs legal? We would need way fewer cops and they’d be easier to keep an eye on.

    1. Yeah, but drug use is wrong and people on drugs might break the law. We can’t condone that! What kind of message would we be sending to the children? Usually, when someone steals or beats their wife and/or dog, it’s the drug’s fault, and not because they’re bad people or anything.

      Besides, if I have to live sober, so should everyone else. Try taking ONDCP’s advice and finding an ‘anti-drug’ to get ‘high’ on. Failing that, there’s always alcohol – it’s both safe and legal, and therefore neither ‘bad’ nor a ‘drug.’

      If you want to avoid being on the receiving end of a (very rare) ‘bad apple’s’ baton, the answer is simple: OBEY! Obey the law! Safety first, as guaranteed in our Constitutional. Don’t use drugs. Don’t speed. Don’t break the law to begin with, and thereby avoid all problems with the police before they ever start.

      1. If you want to avoid being on the receiving end of a (very rare) ‘bad apple’s’ baton, the answer is simple: OBEY! Obey the law! Safety first, as guaranteed in our Constitutional. Don’t use drugs. Don’t speed. Don’t break the law to begin with, and thereby avoid all problems with the police before they ever start.

        I can’t tell if this is sarcasm or statism.

        1. I can.

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    2. Why can’t it be both? Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    3. Why not both? and why not seize one while there’s opportunity and keep pushing the other?

    4. The cops are afraid of “the eye”. It exposes police brutality. illegal police activity, and perjury. If there is no video from police bodycams, charges should be null and void.

  3. I’ve been reading through Twitter about the Seattle community.
    CHAZ – so perfect.
    Their icon is apparently some combination of a pink umbrella and black fist.
    It is a currency free zone, and everything there is free.
    First tweet I saw was saying they need more “anarchists with guns” and asking for donations.
    Haven’t heard if the rapes have started yet…

    1. “Haven’t heard if the rapes have started yet…”
      Nuttplug is still on his way, there are a lot of empty playgrounds between him and Seattle.

      1. I wonder if sarcasmic, Leo, and the other left/anarchist leaning types will put their money where their mouths are and head up there.
        Isn’t this the “libertarian moment” they’ve been agitating for?

        1. You should really stop slurping that Trump semen. It’s wrecking your brain.

        2. What posts have I made that make you think I’m a leftist? I don’t like Antifa any more than you do.

          If you were going to call me out at all you might suggest that I move to New Hampshire and join the free state movement. And by the way, I have considered it.

          1. You don’t worship Trump. That makes you a leftist. Duh.

          2. You’re thinking like an intelligent human being. You’ve got to think like a simpleton to understand Nardz. If you aren’t with Trump then you’re a leftist. If you want fewer laws then you want no laws, so you’re an anarchist. If you want to reduce police power and reduce government then you want no police and no government, which makes you an anarchist. If you agree with the Democrats when they come around to what libertarians have been saying for decades then you have TDS.

            Say “Hurr durr, hurr durr, hurr durr” twenty or thirty times, and then you may sink to his level.

            1. Just above you correctly noted that Leo is a rather dim bulb.

              1. He contributes 1000x more intelligent input than Nardz.

            2. It’s funny, because reading the commune kids on Twitter is just like reading sarcasmic

              1. Shorter Nardz: Hurr durr!

              2. Hey, look at Nardz! He never adds anything to the discussion other than calling people names! He’s an inspiration to every 13yr old schoolboy! So fucking cool!

                1. Crying all the time doesn’t add anything either, but here you are.

                  1. Waaaah! Trump supporters keep calling me a poo-poo-head! My feelings are so hurt! Boo hoo!

                    1. Goddamn, that really set sarc off.
                      What a pussy

    2. I heard that the store owners in the occupied area were “persuaded” to renounce themselves from being part of the city of Seattle. Also, that journalists aren’t being allowed inside, so you know, opinions are verboden, unless they’re the right opinions.

      1. There’s apparently some rapper by the name of Raz Simone who’s patrolling the perimeter and interrogating anyone who comes near as to their purpose.
        His crew’s AKs have been making people a bit uncomfortable

    3. Can’t have a rape if everything is free – – – – – – – –

      Why do they need donations if everything is free?

      Why do they need guns if everything is free?

  4. Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) last week introduced a bill that would abolish it

    As of today thomas.gov is claiming they’ve not received the full text of the bill. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/7085/text?r=1&s=1

    As Gray_Jay pointed out, it’s a publicity stunt.

    1. We have to support the bill before we can know what’s in the bill.

      1. We have to pass the bill before we can read it.

        1. what’s this bit at the end about all LE getting a 200% increase in budget, and more surplus military gear?

          1. That’s just your imagination. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

      2. If you don’t know what’s in the bill then how can it be a “non-starter?” That seems equally dumb.

        1. Because you don’t know what’s in it. How hard is that to understand? Any reference to ‘et al’ synonyms is a non-starter. It lets you fill in the gaps later, after others have signed onto it. It’s chicken-shit legislating.

      3. We don’t need to read the bill, or understand it. Just vote how the party demands it.

  5. Ok, which one of you fucking morons did this?

    Men videotaped imitating George Floyd’s death during protest in NJ suspended from jobs

    Apparently, now you need a job…

    Two men have been suspended from their jobs after they were caught on camera imitating the way in which George Floyd was killed as a counter-protest to a Black Lives Matter demonstration in New Jersey.

    I’m hiring a minimum wage dishwasher and lavatory cleaner. Hit me up.

    1. They’ll be fine. Anyone who needs money only needs to go to either Chicago or Minneapolis with a gun, and they can take whatever they want. And as we all know, all Libertarians get a free AR upon signing up

    2. Humorless of the world unite!!

      Outlaw satire! Forbid jokes! Defund comedy clubs!!

    3. Maybe they should have reenacted that time George Floyd took part in a home invasion and put a loaded gun to a pregnant woman’s belly.

      1. Chauvin shouldn’t have killed him, but it’s time to stop deifying this animal.

        1. His funeral yesterday, and the coverage of it, was absolutely disgusting.

          1. I’d like to say we’ve hit peak farce…
            But I somehow doubt it

      2. Is this real? Cite?

        1. Here – the first line in a google search of “George Floyd rap sheet” (and there’s plenty more)

          COURT DOCUMENTS: George Floyd Profile Reads Like A Career Criminal

          1. Thanks. Surprisingly the MSM made no mention of any of this!

            1. Of course not. It may not give the cop cause, but it severely tarnishes the brass wings of your victim. It’s harder to feel righteous indignation for an asshole.

        2. Floyd has more than a decade-old criminal history at the time of the arrest and went to jail for at least 5 times
          George Floyd was the ringleader of a violent home invasion
          He plead guilty to entering a woman’s home, pointing a gun at her stomach and searching the home for drugs and money, according to court records

          Floyd was sentenced to 10 months in state jail for possession of cocaine in a December 2005 arrest
          He had previously been sentenced to eight months for the same offense, stemming from an October 2002 arrest
          Floyd was arrested in 2002 for criminal trespassing and served 30 days in jail
          He had another stint for a theft in August 1998

          1. That was only his Texas criminal history. Given the previously shown to be poor centralization of Minnesota government records, God only knows what Floyd got up to in Minnesota. Besides acquiring fentanyl and meth, of course.

            George Floyd was a bad guy. Who those cops shouldn’t have killed.

  6. Unpopular opinion: Do we need *some* form of qualified immunity, for those rights which the courts newly discover?

    I mean, imagine being the cop who didn’t read Miranda his rights. Is it fair to let him be sued for violating a right which didn’t really exist until the courts said it did?

    Maybe all we need is to just allow higher levels of generality, and to make sure the court always addresses the question instead of letting it go unanswered for the next case.

    1. Maybe cops should all be private, with victim prosecution, and cops who screw up are just civilians with victims who can prosecute them.

      Why should cops, who are specially trained in police academies, get the benefit of the doubt and not civilians? Isn’t that a little backwards?

      1. If anybody should be held to a higher standard when it comes to the law or upholding the rights of the people, it should be the people who are tasked with upholding the law and defending the rights of the people. The current system isn’t just a little backwards, it’s entirely backwards.

        The biggest problem isn’t QI, in my mind, but I’ll take ending it as a form of incrementalism. Most of these egregious violations of rights could be solved by prosecuting the bad cops on criminal charges. The problem is that police and DA’s are a team. When a member of your team does something bad, you’re much more likely to defend that team member. It’s just human nature.

        I think we have to change the way that we prosecute cops in the criminal justice system. There needs to be a separate, independent system which prosecutes government malfeasance.

        1. “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes”

          1. A problem as old as latin.

        2. The problem with a separate police force to prosecute regular police is the same with the limited checks and balances of the Constitution, where judges, legislators, and the executive are all supposed to keep each other in check. It doesn’t work because they are all on Team Government. Just as Marines and sailors will fight each other until some Air Force flyboy shows up as a new joint enemy, but will join forces when civilians show up, so too do judges, legislators, and the executive all collude when civilians try to interfere with Team Government.

          Team Cop will collude the hell out of their supposed competition.

          The ONLY solution is to let ANYONE charge cops with real criminal acts. one of this civil suit for damages; real criminal charges, for murder, assault, rape, theft, torture, whatever the charges ought to be. They need to be tried as civilians, not as cops, so juries aren’t swayed by their uniforms, and cops can’t be allowed to pack the court seats to intimidate juries.

          The ONLY way that will ever happen is if all police are civilians, or to put it more correctly, all civilians are cops, with all the arrest powers of cops, and there are no government police with extra-special super-duper authority.

          1. Simply make the cops personally responsible for their actions and require them to have professional liability insurance like doctors. Their premiums would increase with complaints until they could not afford to be cops.

            1. The problem with that is that Democrats support the idea. That means Republicans can’t.

            2. And no one ever complains against a cop unless it’s deserved by the cop, right?

              One giant difference between police, and every other professional with liability insurance, is that police work is inherently confrontational and hostile. So are some areas of the law, but lawyers usually aren’t confrontational and hostile with their own clients. Good cops, cops getting out of their car, talking to people, trying to catch criminals versus ’em smiling and waving’: good cops are going to get complaints filed against them.

              If you want the police equivalent of Sgt. Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes”, base an officer’s performance and their hypothetical liability premiums on the number of complaints the officer receives.

              1. You think doctors have an easy peasy non-confrontation job? What do you think malpractice insurance covers?

                You think no one gets mad at lawyers? They lose half their cases!

                Cops don’t need any carve-outs. If you think they do, you have been drinking their kool-aid.

                1. Yes, Alphabet, I think a doctor’s job is less confrontational than a cop’s. A lawyer’s job is as confrontational, but the people she’s confronting rarely get to sue her personally. This should be obvious.

                  If you can’t see that the nature of police work is inherently more confrontational than other professions, such that an officer is more likely to be sued for simply doing their job, than someone in another profession, I don’t know what we can discuss.

                  Does that mean there should be qualified immunity for LEOs? Not necessarily. They got along without it before the late 70s. But just be cognizant that complaints against officers are unfounded, the vast majority of the time. Makes it harder to concentrate on the complaints that are valid.

                  Bad cops need to go, and they can’t be relied upon to police themselves, pardon the pun. I think working on the incredible deference D.A.s give cops under the reasonable officer standard in evaluating potentially criminal uses of force and deadly force, would be a better way of limiting police brutality.

              2. Make the suits loser pays to avoid frivolous complaints.

            3. You could allow the police unions to provide liability coverage the way some unions provide health care. That way the Union would have an incentive to get rid of the expensive cops.

              1. They’d just add it to the next round of contract negotiations.

                Cops need to be held personally accountable for criminal actions, as criminals. Excessive force is assault or murder. Theft is theft. Pretty simple.

                1. Liability insurance wouldn’t cover criminal cases.

                  Need external, neutral judges to handle criminal cases.

              2. They’d still get the taxpayers to pay for it.

          2. I struggle with anything being the ONLY solution. I agree that your solution is preferable, but I doubt that it has a chance to be implemented as described.

            Ending QI is a step towards your ultimate goal, with the difference being every person is a prosecutor (a plaintiff, more accurately) against the police in a civil court. It seems that there could be some framework there such that the plaintiff could assert criminal charges as well and non-government attorneys could prosecute the case, with a guilty verdict ensuring them payment. Just a thought. Think of it as privatization of the prosecution of a criminal case against government agents. As mentioned above, “loser pays” is a way to limit frivolity in charges.

      2. I seriously cannot think of anything more idiotic than giving powers of arrest to for-profit henchmen… unless you also want to add prosecutorial powers and the right seize assets.

    2. This. If this weren’t a hollow publicity stunt bill people would absolutely not like the result. The very central premise of police force is the deprivation of people’s “rights” in an ostensibly socially controlled way. The crooks have to be taken off the streets somehow and it is preferred if some kind of government agent does that as opposed to a vigilante mob. To that end the government agent does need to be empowered to do the socially sanctioned amount of right deprivation by doing things that could otherwise be considered assault, kidnapping, even yes at times murder.

      If you take away qualified immunity entirely what you’ll get is terrorists suing the cops who shoot them to stop their rampages, burglars suing cops for arresting them, and set a new bar for legal chutzpah.

      That’s not to say that things don’t need to change. They do. Right now police are empowered to do anything they want with almost no restrictions. They need to be given legal breathing room to do their jobs but that needs to stop where a reasonable person would draw the line. A reasonable person would not say that stealing a quarter million dollars is a reasonable activity for the police to be engaged in. A reasonable person would not say that shooting chained up dogs is required to enter a property. A reasonable person would not say that creeping around people’s houses in the middle of the night unannounced and shooting anything that moves is a reasonable activity, or barging into people’s houses in plain clothes and shooting anyone who draws a gun. The list goes on and on. There exists a reasonable standard that allows police to arrest criminals and stop crimes without fear of prosecution but which doesn’t permit them to perpetuate crimes of their own.

      1. If you take away qualified immunity entirely what you’ll get is terrorists suing the cops who shoot them to stop their rampages, burglars suing cops for arresting them, and set a new bar for legal chutzpah.

        I doubt that. Lawyers who work on contingency aren’t going to take the cases you just described because a reasonable jury wouldn’t convict.

        1. Obviously the solution is to develop a strict legal definition of “reasonable”.

          Perhaps something like “Demonstrating the ability to solve ‘Brothers and sisters have I none, but this man’s father is my father’s son'”.

        2. Yeah, Sarc…No. Ever seen a large city jury? Or read cases in a blue sheet report from a plaintiff-friendly area?

          If the plaintiff is of the same race and social class as the majority of the jury pool, sky’s the limit. After all, it’s not their money (so they think), ‘and why’d he have to hurt that man?’ And so on.

          The problem is largely one of going from an educated, fairly homogeneous culturally, high trust society to a culturally diverse, low-trust, lower educated, tribal-centered society. I don’t know how you reverse that.

          1. More than half of the cases that do make it to court result in an acquittal. Riddle me that, Batman.

            1. I thought we were discussing civil cases, not criminal ones? Especially given qualified immunity has nothing to do with criminal charges against an officer. And you’re mentioning contingency fees in your post, which are per se unethical for a lawyer to receive in a criminal case.

              Make up your mind what you want to discuss, and I’ll have a conversation with you. Even if the thread is dying.

              1. I’m not a lawyer, so I’m just going by what I understand, which is apparently incorrect.

                1. Seriously? Kinda awkward having formed your opinion before you even know the definitions, let alone have a reasoned basis for your conclusions…. right?

                  Pro tip: Googling the terminology and understanding the differences between civil and criminal law don’t require passing the bar. Only a dedication to learning before you form an opinion. It also might save your ass one day. Same thing goes with understanding the Constitution before arguing it.

                  However, I’ll give you credit for at least realizing and admitting to your lack of knowledge rather than simply ignoring it and moving on. Shows character.

      2. ESADIAF! Cops should hang for violating civil rights.

        1. There’s a six block chunk of Seattle that’s calling for someone like you, gaoxiaen. You should go there.

          1. Or I should give my sarcasm meter a couple of healthy whacks. One of the two.

    3. I’d argue that we shouldn’t have qualified immunity, BUT we should also fix the issue that QI was created to fight originally. It’s too damn easy to sue people in the USA for no reason other than to fuck with them, hence why people sue the cops all the time. Unless they’re asking for outrageous amounts, the town will usually just pay out automatically instead of going to court. Maybe consider that the loser has to pay the winner’s legal fees automatically or something similar.

      1. Loser pays would go a long way towards eliminating vexatious litigators. It has to include everything that would not have been spent absent the charges — court costs, time off work, rental cars and hotels while traveling, investigators — everything.

        I would also add that no one can file charges if they have outstanding loser-pays debts, and bankruptcy cannot clear them. You only get one shot at being a verdict debtor.

        1. The argument would be that you are prohibiting poor people from access to justice because only the rich can afford to pay the costs of litigation.

          I’m not arguing with you on this, but that would be the hit against what you’re saying.

      2. As far as cops go, that’s a feature, not a bug! Hang the pigs that violate the Constitution!

    4. Yes, we do. There really are many, many gray areas were QI is the correct doctrine. No matter what happens, cops won’t be loosing their houses for violating someones civil rights. If they lose QI protections they’ll just buy professional liability insurance, or more likely their departments will buy it for them.

  7. Beginning in 1967, the Supreme Court has read into that law exceptions for government officials who act in “good faith” or whose conduct does not violate “clearly established” rights.

    Only a federal employee could determine that stealing $225,000.00 does not violate clearly established rights.

    1. Only because it was a fellow government employee who did the stealing. Fellow tribe members can do no wrong.

    2. I have seen rationalizations that (a) the money was confiscated pursuant to a search warrant, thus the cops did not steal it, the State did; and (b) if cops stole any money, it was from the State, and if the State declines to pursue a theft charge, that is no one else’s business.

      1. If the money was seized pursuant to a search warrant and there was no forfeiture then the money still belongs to the original owner (ir)regardless of who stole it.

    3. Hanging’s too kind for them!

  8. Republicans don’t like ending qualified immunity, therefor ending it is stupid. If Republicans change their minds then it will suddenly become a great idea.

    Always judge ideas by the person, not on its merits.

  9. exceptions for government officials who act in “good faith”

    “Well, *of course* I act in ‘good faith’! I’m a *government official*, aren’t I?!”

    1. I don’t know if you’ve been around long enough to remember Dunphy, but he claimed to be a cop and sure acted like one. His response to “good faith” would be “I took an oath! Government officials took an oath! We always act in good faith because we took an oath!” or something similar. Oaths are magic. Didn’t you know that?

      1. Well, glad to hear it; because I mutter oaths a lot reading these comments.

  10. William Barr is a major fucking asshole so much of an asshole that you should literally do exactly the opposite of whatever he says.

    1. Thanks God. You have finally answered one of my prayers.

    2. And burn his house and kill his descendants.

    3. God, those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones!

      Your track record likely beats Mao, Stalin, and Adolph rolled together.

  11. The most important part of this debate might be the two new Supreme Court justices the Democrats arrange early next year.

    1. When you’ve outlived your usefulness to your handlers and find yourself up against the wall, what patriotic song will you be singing?

    2. That and the riots and the economy almost guarantee Trumps re-election.

  12. I dont think Jacob understands what happens when police “pull back’. Its not a symbolic act.

  13. “Abolishing qualified immunity is a crucial step in holding police accountable for violating our rights”

    Stop collectivizing and stop using tendentious language. It hurts the objective of actually advocating in favor of libertarian ideals even in those cases where Reason still remains libertarian.

  14. Oh, and stop promoting an ineffective, self righteous, inconsistent former Republican as some kind of libertarian Superstar.

    1. But that photo is soooo wonderful, staring off in the middle distance as if engaged in deep thought.
      Sort of reminds you of Soviet Hero Tractor Driver poster, no?

    2. The perfect is the enemy of the barely acceptable.

  15. As Amash points out, “Members of Congress have a duty to ensure government officials can be held accountable for violating Americans’ rights, and ending qualified immunity is a crucial part of that.”

    Except for members of Congress, who can continue to undermine American’s rights however they please.

    1. Hmmmm…members who sponsor bills found unconstitutional should be sacked?

      1. The halls of Congress would be empty. Hey, you may be on to something!

      2. I know where you’re going with that, but that isn’t exactly the point. Congress often acts with impunity, profiting from their roles. Seriously HTF does Chellie Pingree have a $40M increase in worth in 12 years [an average of $73000% increase PER YEAR]? Well, she sits on the Appropriations Committee. There might be a clue.

        Or if you don’t like her, Robert Pittenger, making $20M while on the Financial Services Committee. A total of 17 current members of Congress have increased their net worth by more than $5M since their first election. The top 20 increased their net worth by an average of 420% per year, every year, not even counting the above two.

        Or how about that list of Congressmen who had a House fund that was used to settle sex lawsuits? I don’t recall that list ever being released, despite the plethora of irate Congressmen who were just “appalled” by the idea. Or relatives, friends, and spouses who suddenly became rich when they got into office. If there aren’t American rights lost in this, I’ll eat my shorts.

        This shit goes on all the time. Police may have a good ol boys club, but they don’t have anything on Congress.

  16. In relation to qualified immunity…the only way to overcome qualified immunity right now is if the there is a “clearly established” right that has been violated. And in White v. Pauley the Supreme Court said that the clearly established violation has be nearly identical to a case where a past right was violated. So, for example, in either Arizona or Nevada, a cop left a woman handcuffed and lying on hot pavement. She suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns. The courts held that there was qualified immunity because there was no clearly established law saying that cops can’t leave a person handcuffed, lying on pavement. The court said, from that point forward, leaving someone lying on smoldering hot pavement would be violation of rights. However, because of White v. Pauley, if a cop left someone handcuffed and lying on sub-zero pavement and they got frostbite and lost several toes and fingers…that would not be a “clearly established” violation of rights because the cases are not “nearly identical.” How outrageous is that?

    1. This condition assumes each specific “right” is granted by the state; pretty much the opposite of what A9 states.
      I do not need a court to tell me I have a “right” to drink a beer at a ball game; the court needs to find some reason to outlaw it if they desire.

  17. Even if the reform bills change qualified immunity, won’t the police just hide behind sovereign immunity next?

  18. Correct me should I be wrong, but the police are the employees of the people. What is, or might be the source of this “qualified immunity” that public employees enjoy and sometimes abuse. I find myself really curious about this.

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  19. I think that we should get rid of qualified immunity and get some of the clowns who have been expressing their “educated” opinions to put their fat asses where their fat mouths are and sign up. Only then will we have real “experts” in our police departments lol. Most (if not all) of them would shit their pants the first time that they faced a critical situation and realized that their not playing a video game anymore lol.

  20. “Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim — when he defends himself — as a criminal.”
    ~ Frederic Bastiat

  21. Nobody supports police brutality. But that’s not the whole story. The police deal with dangerous people, people who will harm them and harm others. The police risk injury and death doing their job. And we expect them to do that, to keep us safe. They have to make split-second decisions, and without knowing all the facts. Sometimes they will get it wrong. If they act too fast, they will cause unnecessary harm. But if they act too slow, they themselves will be harmed – and not us. So we should be slow to condemn, we should be understanding of their circumstances.

    1. Everything you said would make a great deal of sense except for one thing: The police in the United States have NO DUTY to to protect the public: Castle Rock v. Gonzales and DeShaney v. Winnebago County. So, the idea that they are out there to “protect us” is patently false. They are out there to enforce laws – of which there are many. So many in fact that it is estimated that the average person unknowingly breaks at least three federal criminal laws every day.

  22. There is, I think, a profound misunderstanding among criminal justice purveyors and their supporters about what, exactly, people are so angry about. People are not angry at most police officers personally – to be so would be foolish and myopic. We are, instead, angry at the system – the bureaucracy – that exists, in large part, to do naught but ensure its own existence and ever-creeping growth at the expense of those they supposedly serve. The system exists to perpetuate the system and that perpetuation comes at the cost human life, yes, but also in the form of exorbitant fees, fines and levies for low-level and victimless “crimes” that are committed daily by a populace who could never hope to know or understand the countless laws, rules, restrictions and regulations that have been foisted upon them over the last 231 years. People are angry that the poorest and most marginalized among them are the ones who bear the burden of the system. They are angry about a system that promises justice but delivers the opposite. They are angry that the agents of that system, be they judges, lawyers, prosecutors or police, are much more concerned about the system itself than they are the justice that is supposed to come before it.

  23. Take guns off their hips and remove qualified immunity and see how much nicer police become. How much more interested they suddenly are in de-escalation.

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