Qualified Immunity

Abolish Qualified Immunity

This court-invented doctrine shields bad cops from civil liability.

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In this month's issue, we draw on decades of Reason journalism about policing and criminal justice to make practical suggestions about how to use the momentum of this summer's tumultuous protests productively. Check out Peter Suderman on busting the police unions, Jacob Sullum on ending the war on drugs, Sally Satel on rethinking crisis response, Zuri Davis on restricting asset forfeiture, C.J. Ciaramella on regulating use of force, Alec Ward on releasing body cam footage, Jonathan Blanks on stopping overpolicing, Stephen Davies on defunding the police, and Nick Gillespie interviewing former Reasoner Radley Balko on police militarization.

"As it stands in America today, the police aid in the trampling of rights on such a massive scale that there is hardly a word sufficiently descriptive. Limited liability? The price of retribution due to the victims of the crimes committed by police on any single day would be beyond calculation, yet not only do these crimes go undenounced (for the most part), and the perpetrators, police and politicians, unpunished, but, even worse, the victims are forced through taxes to finance the operation and salaries of the criminals."
Lanny Friedlander
"The Cops: Heroes or Villains?"
November 1969

In December 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a former Ferndale, Michigan, police officer named Lowell Phillips violated the Constitution when he shot and killed a fleeing suspect. Laszlo Latits "showed a persistent intent to flee but not an intent to injure, and never placed the public or the officers at imminent risk," the court observed of the incident, which began with a traffic stop over a wrong-way turn onto a divided boulevard and ended four minutes later with Latits dead of multiple gunshot wounds to the chest and abdomen.

Phillips not only "repeatedly violated police procedures in both ramming Latits and running up to his car," the 6th Circuit noted, but Phillips was ultimately fired by the Ferndale police department for that misconduct. "Considering the totality of the circumstances," the appeals court noted, "we conclude that Officer Phillips's use of deadly force was objectively unreasonable and in violation of Latits's constitutional rights."

But then the 6th Circuit switched gears and shielded the disgraced ex-cop from facing a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by the dead man's family. "Caselaw existing at the time of the events," the court said, "did not clearly establish the objective unreasonableness of Phillips's actions in the circumstances of this case."

Welcome to the bizarro world of qualified immunity, a place where the federal courts will acknowledge that a police officer violated the Constitution but then deem the officer not civilly liable for his unconstitutional actions because there was no prior court decision explicitly frowning on the same behavior.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court's 1982 decision in Harlow v. Fitzgerald, state actors are entitled to immunity from civil suits arising from their official conduct so long as the conduct that they're being sued over "does not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights." But as 5th Circuit Judge Don Willett, a leading critic of the Court's qualified immunity doctrine, has complained, what that means in practice is that "public officials [may] duck consequences for bad behavior—no matter how palpably unreasonable—as long as they were the first to behave badly."

Something has gone seriously wrong in our criminal justice system when the federal courts are running this kind of interference on behalf of blatantly unconstitutional police actions. What happened?

'Shall Be Liable'

The story begins in 1871. In the aftermath of the Civil War, numerous state and local officials throughout the former Confederacy turned a blind eye (or worse) to the racist domestic terrorism perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups. Congress responded to this dire state of affairs by enacting a series of so-called enforcement acts, each one rooted in Section 5 of the recently ratified 14th Amendment, which gave federal lawmakers the power "to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article." Among the provisions of the 14th Amendment was the requirement that states respect the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens.

Perhaps the most forceful of the enforcement acts was the Civil Rights Act of 1871, also known as the Ku Klux Klan Act. Among other things, it sought to hold state officials personally liable for the widespread civil rights violations that were occurring on their watch. It did so in part by declaring that "any person who, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, custom or usage of any State, shall subject, or cause to be subjected, any person within the jurisdiction of the United States to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution of the United States shall…be liable to the party injured in any action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceedings for redress."

"If the Federal Government cannot pass laws to protect the rights, liberty, and lives of citizens of the United States in the States," declared the bill's principal author, Massachusetts Rep. Benjamin F. Butler, a radical Republican and former Union major general, "why were guarantees of those fundamental rights put in the Constitution at all?"

Butler's handiwork lives on today in modified form in Section 1983 of Title 42 of the U.S. Code, more commonly known as Section 1983. It features language almost identical to the Ku Klux Klan Act.

Guess what the law does not say? "Neither version of the text, you will notice if you wade through them," University of Chicago law professor William Baude has observed, "makes any reference to immunity." That part came later, when the U.S. Supreme Court invented qualified immunity for cops in the mid-20th century.

'Clearly Established'

It's common to think of Chief Justice Earl Warren as one of the towering figures of legal liberalism, a jurist whose record is practically synonymous with what progressives like to call social justice. In the approving words of The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court of the United States, "Whether one looks at the Court's record in matters of free speech, separation of church and state, apportionment, racial discrimination, or criminal procedure, Warren and his Court essentially asked the same questions: Is this fair?"

Alas, fair is not exactly the word anyone would choose to describe what happened in Pierson v. Ray (1967), the case in which Chief Justice Warren more or less concocted the idea of qualified immunity for cops. At issue was the 1961 arrest of the Rev. Robert Pierson and several other civil rights activists for entering the "Whites Only" facilities at a segregated bus stop in Jackson, Mississippi. In 1965, in a different case, the Supreme Court ruled against the anti-loitering law those activists were arrested for violating. Two years later, the Court weighed a lawsuit, filed by Pierson and his allies under Section 1983, against the local authorities who wrongfully shackled and jailed them.

Writing for the majority, Warren safeguarded the Mississippi cops from the lawsuit. At common law, he argued, "a peace officer who arrests someone with probable cause is not liable for false arrest simply because the innocence of the suspect is later proved." The chief justice then grafted that reasoning onto Section 1983.

"A policeman's lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause, and being mulcted in damages if he does," Warren declared. "Although the matter is not entirely free from doubt, the same consideration would seem to require excusing him from liability for acting under a statute that he reasonably believed to be valid but that was later held unconstitutional."

Fifteen years later, the Court doubled down in Harlow v. Fitzgerald. "Government officials are entitled to some form of immunity from suits for damages," the Court said. "Public officers require this protection to shield them from undue interference with their duties and from potentially disabling threats of liability." So long as government officials acting under color of law do "not violate clearly established statutory or constitutional rights of which a reasonable person would have known," the Court held, those officials "generally are shielded from liability for civil damages."

'An Absolute Shield for Law Enforcement'

The problems with qualified immunity are self-evident. Not only does the doctrine shield rights-violating officers from facing federal civil rights lawsuits, but it incentivizes police departments (which are also shielded from liability) to retain bad cops on the payroll. In effect, qualified immunity functions as an anti-accountability measure.

What can be done? There are two possible fixes. The first is for the Supreme Court to reverse or modify its misguided precedents.

At least two justices may be ready to do just that. The Court's "one-sided approach to qualified immunity," objected Justice Sonia Sotomayor in Kisela v. Hughes (2018), "transforms the doctrine into an absolute shield for law enforcement, gutting the deterrent effect of the Fourth Amendment." To make matters worse, "it tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished."

Justice Clarence Thomas, meanwhile, has suggested that the doctrine itself might be unlawful. In Ziglar v. Abbasi (2016), Thomas wrote a lone concurrence "to note my growing concern with our qualified immunity jurisprudence" and to urge the Court to "reconsider" that jurisprudence "in an appropriate case."

Earlier this year, when the Court declined to hear Baxter v. Bracey, a case involving the grant of qualified immunity to officers who allegedly unleashed a police dog on a surrendering suspect, Thomas blasted his colleagues for refusing to get involved.

Section 1983 "ma[kes] no mention of defenses or immunities," Thomas pointed out in his dissent. "Instead, it applies categorically to the deprivation of constitutional rights under color of state law." In other words, the judicially invented doctrine does not match the text enacted by Congress. "There is likely no [legal] basis for the objective inquiry into clearly established law that our modern cases prescribe," he wrote. "I continue to have strong doubts about our [Section] 1983 qualified immunity doctrine."

The other fix requires action from Congress and the signature of the president. Because this doctrine arose via the judicial interpretation of a federal law, federal lawmakers need only pass a new statute to expressly repudiate what SCOTUS has done.

That approach is slowly gaining adherents. "Qualified immunity protects police and other officials from consequences even for horrific rights abuses," observed Rep. Justin Amash (L–Mich.) when he introduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act in the House of Representatives in June. Amash's bill had garnered 65 co-sponsors at the time this article went to press, though a majority of Senate Republicans have declared the idea dead on arrival.

The fight against police misconduct is fast emerging as one of the greatest civil rights issues of our time. Holding abusive officers civilly liable in federal court is a necessary and long-overdue part of that fight. One way or another, qualified immunity for cops deserves to be abolished.

 

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  2. Police should also be bonded and police unions, as well as all public sector unions should be eliminated. And of course end the drug war.

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      1. And the other famous ones like I couldn’t see his hands, not obeying commands and Furtive movements. All of which are unconstitutional at the business end of a gun.

        I’m still trying to find that in the Constitution about obeying commands of the government agents sent to deprive you of your rights without a warrant.

    2. They ARE bonded. The municipality typically will not submit a claim to the insurer (to avoid an increase in premiums) and will litigate it (at a much higher cost) to keep the good will of The Kings Men.

    3. Qualified immunity for elected officials at all levels is at least 1000 times more of a problem than it is for cops

  3. Years from now, SCOTUS scholars are going to look at the corpus of Justice Thomas’ opinions as prescient.

    1. No they won’t. He’s just an Uncle Tom. They’ll seek to discredit him even more than other conservative justices.

      1. I agree, they will try. But I don’t think that they will succeed. His opinions will endure over time.

  4. Qualified Immunity reform needs to be coupled with “Loser Pays” so that every interaction with a cop doesn’t turn into a lawsuit from scumbag lawyers pursuing a fee. Endless “He hurt my wrists while putting me in handcuffs” shouldn’t be the reason for going after cops and tying up the courts.

    1. How about ‘losing lawyer pays’?

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    2. Amen!

    3. Absolute Immunity. Absolute Immunity.

      If you’re doing your job right then you are protected by Absolute Immunity.

      Qualified Immunity exists solely to give protection to agents of the state that fuck up or act illegally. QI didn’t exist before the late 1960’s. Cops managed just fine without it.

      1. Cops managed just fine without it.

        To expand on that thought, it’s entirely possible that if cops could survive without it in the 50’s, and can’t now, it might be because there are just too many damned unconstitutional laws that cops might try to enforce.

        1. There are 1000 times more laws on the books in most areas than anyone can remember.

      2. Yeah, that distinction seems to have been glossed over by Mr. Root. The 1967 decision looks nothing like these later cases. How can it be implied that the policeman who arrested the demonstrator for loitering needed the same protection from lawsuits that these QI cases give?

        1. How can it be implied that the policeman who arrested the demonstrator for arson needed the same protection from lawsuits that these QI cases give?

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  7. Thanks for the history lesson Damon. At this point I doubt Congress will fix the problem anytime soon. And SCOTUS is too chickenshit.

  8. If you aren’t abolishing QI for everyone then you are just signaling black worship.

    1. Umm, OK. Who has proposed abolishing qualified immunity only for black plaintiffs?

      1. I think he’s trying to say that ending QI just for cops is just pandering to BLM or something.

        I would assume they want QI eliminated for all government employees.

        1. Yes, it makes sense to make the same qualified immunity reforms apply to any government employee, not just cops.

          1. So you just ignore how stupidly wrong you were again.

      2. Jesus Christ you’re an illiterate moron.

  9. “turned a blind eye (or worse) to the racist domestic terrorism perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and other groups”

    So glad that now since we are in 2020 the democrats know this is a terrible idea… Right?… Right?

  10. Something I have wondered about and that I really wish we would hear more about from writers like Mr. Root: What happens the day after QI is done away with?

    Do we, as a country, have a grasp on what things will change and how they will change? I could foresee the courts getting clogged with frivolous abuse lawsuits from pissed criminals. Or police ‘pulling back’ and not making arrests when they should, because they fear litigation. Or municipalities liability insurance rates soaring because they need to indemnify the police. My point is that I see a whole lot of different outcomes that fall out from abolishing QI. There have to be others…what are they? Can we quantify them?

    That is my biggest concern about abolishing QI. We don’t know how that plays out and whatever we do, let’s not make our problems worse.

    1. Valid question. So let’s look at history. Qualified immunity was established in 1982. Prior to 1982, cops were treated with respect, were called when needed, acted professionally, and lawsuits were handled properly. Yes, there were bad cops, bad lawsuits, and poorly handled situations, but there was no sense of invulnerability.

      1. No, you’re just repeating the propaganda of the day. Modern US cops are in every way more professional and less prone to corruption than their past counterparts. People were just much more forgiving of violence back then and much more likely to believe anyone who ended up on the wrong side of the cops had it coming.

        1. The response to the video of the 1968 Democrat National Convention (Chicago) would speak otherwise. Mass beatings of protesters by the Chicago Police Department wound up on video around the world.

          I think one of the things that changed was the media started reporting on police violence. Then SWAT teams were added and are used for situations where they are not called for because they exist and needed to be justified. Probably a few other things as well. I’d like to know when no-knock raids started happening too.

    2. QI needs to be reformed such that if the individual in question is doing the normal course of their job and following established procedures or directives, they can’t be held personally liable.

      But if they are operating outside of their authority, breaking the law, or violating constitutional rights, they are on their own. Regardless of ‘clearly established’ (exact) precedent.

      Also, courts should be made to rule on the legality of the actions in question, even if the person is found to be personally immune, so that we at least have something on record.

      Otherwise, I agree that it would be potentially short-sighted to just abolish it entirely. Worse if we only abolish it for cops and not every other petty tyrant in government.

      1. Apparently you haven’t been paying attention. “following established procedures or directives” is exactly what we have now.

        1. If they are a) following established procedures and directives, and they b) operate outside of their authority, break the law, or violate constitutional rights, then either:

          – They should still be liable, due to ‘b’.
          – Their superiors should still be liable, do to ‘a’.
          – Both.

          1. I’d really like that, especially the part with the superiors being liable. Unfortunately, at present, “in accordance with training” is a defense. And I’m really sick of it being a defense.

      2. QI currently only applies to Section 1983 lawsuits, which are about constitutional rights being violated. If established procedures or directives violate constitutional rights, they should still be liable. As should their bosses, and anyone higher up the food chain who enacted such procedures or directives. ‘Just following orders’ didn’t excuse nazis who committed war crimes, it shouldn’t excuse cops who violate your rights.

        Further, members of the legislature who vote for a measure which is unconstitutional should also be personally liable for any damages from violation of rights consequent to that measure.

        1. I’ve come to think that the war crimes trials set a dangerous precedent in annulling the “just orders” defense.

      3. That is called Absolute Immunity. And it already exists.

    3. Absolute Immunity protects government agents conducting lawful government duties lawfully.

      It predates QI. It predates the existence of the United States. Its part of our commonwealth heritage.

      Qualified Immunity came into existence in 1968 in order to protect cops that acted illegally.

  11. As a preliminary point, qualified immunity is not simply immunity from liability. It is liability from being sued altogether. It is broader and simply immunity from liability, or liability from damages.

    But here is a significant point. Those of you who think that repealing qualified liability means that police officers will be held accountable need to think again. Do you think that police officers pay for their own attorneys? In most states, including New Jersey, It is mandatory for the public body who employs the officers to provide them with a legal defense. That means taxpayers like you and me pay for their lawyers. In addition, it is mandatory that they be reimbursed for any compensatory damages assessed against them for negligence. Reimbursement for damages resulting from intentional wrongdoing is not mandatory, but it’s optional. The only thing prohibited is reimbursement of punitive damages which are granted only in the most egregious cases.

    And here is a dirty secret: 90% plus of these cases settle. Since the public body is the “deep pocket,” everyone looks to the public body to put up the settlement money. What ultimately happens is that the public body or its insurer puts up a sum of money in exchange for an agreement in which they do not admit any wrongdoing on anyone’s part. I can count on the fingers of one hand the cases I am aware of in which the miscreant officer was asked to contribute to the settlement, or in which a miscreant officer was subsequently disciplined Because he was forced his municipality to put up settlement money. As a practical matter, because the municipality gets sued along with the officer, the municipality needs to have the officer on its side and actually ends up defending the officer.

    The full repeal of qualified immunity will result in more lawsuits without any concomitant increase in police officer accountability. The better result is to restrict it to cases that are truly unique and unprecedented. It has been extended way too far. Beyond that, the real solution is to repeal the state laws that go too far in insulating police officers from the consequences of their misconduct, and make it too difficult to remove bad cops.

    1. Going to trial will bring the facts out in public view. QI prevents that altogether.

  12. Police are well trained and professional and don’t need to be reformed or defunded. They are our agents of justice and they deserve our protection in the form of QI. Yes there are abuses but they are relatively rare. The solution to them isn’t to turn the system upside-down by abolishing QI, but instead to gradually decriminalize (drugs, weapons, sex, etc) and gradually reduce funding to law enforcement and criminal justice industries. This will reduce police interactions and abuses along with it. The people are civilized and responsible and don’t need to be patrolled and controlled as much any more. If you disagree that’s fine, but then admit you’re not a libertarian and go prowl the boards of Daily Caller or Breitbart.

    Ending QI is just a form of adolescent rebellion against the state. It will be too easy to instigate the police into fighting you, and then suing them. Suicide by cop is already rampant. This will make that kind of problem far worse.

    People fear the Judgment and so try to stave it off with these ill-conceived schemes ensuring eternal government. Be not afraid my people.

    1. Don’t see it. Most police are professional, but there are clearly bad cops. I say this as someone with a police officer in my family.

      They are not all well-trained. Budgets vary widely. As does the desirability of working in various areas, which affects the quality of officers a police department can recruit. The places that are least able to attract good applicants are also the places that tend to have inadequate budgets. This is why “defund the police” (at least when taken literally) is a terrible idea.

      As for qualified immunity, it is a bizarre legal principle. It’s like something out of Alice’s Wonderland: your conduct was only wrong if there was another court case where very similar conduct was rule wrong. I don’t see how anyone can defend that.

      1. The right answer on QI is nuanced.

        If you are just doing your job… writing tickets, arresting people for drug possession, etc. you should be protected. There is absolutely no reason that a grunt should face financial ruin because he gave the rich and powerful attorney’s daughter a ticket.

        Meanwile, doing things that are not part of your job should not be protected. Hence the word Qualified.

        Unfortunately, the courts have invented a ludicrous version of qualification that means that there is near absolute immunity. It should not take a rocket scientist to figure out that if a police officer steals something from a home during a search, that is not protected. It is not a part of his duties. He knows it. The homeowner knows it. The other police know it. The prosecutor knows it. And the judges know it.

        So this absolutely farcical version that we have today cannot be allowed to stand. Even if it did not have dire consequences for the population and the rule of law, it would be an affront to justice. As it actually exists, it completely undermines public confidence in the law by allowing blatant abuses to go unpunished.

        1. If you’re just doing your job you are protected by Absolute Immunity.

          QI is invoked only when you screw up or act illegally.

    2. I feel like maybe you haven’t been reading some of the QI horror stories that come through here. Like the cops who took $200+k of cash from some folks, and just kept it. There is no reason whatsoever to shield those police from liability for that in any way. We are not so desperate for cops that we need cops like that.

    3. The people are civilized and responsible and don’t need to be patrolled and controlled as much any more. If you disagree that’s fine, but then admit you’re not a libertarian…
      And people wonder why libertarianism is a fringe ideology.

  13. This is so Gotham simple, Qualified Immunity is not the problem, the ridiculous standard invented that is at odds with the plain language of Harlow v Fitzgerald is the problem.
    Any reasonable person(cop) should know you can’t shoot at a chained dog and hit a little boy, or steal $200k whole ransacking a house, or run over a jaywalker with your patrol car. Just uphold the “reasonable” standard

    1. I just wrote in the comment above yours that qualified immunity is bizarre. But your statement of the problem is more accurate than what I wrote.

    2. I’ll add in the king’s immunity for the state that allowed the police to completely destroy a man’s home looking for a suspect who was fleeing and was in no way authorized to be on the property. Their position that they do not owe him anything is immoral and should not be countenanced by anyone in that community.

      Plus, if I lived there, I’d be taking a look at what they did to his house and thinking that I didn’t want those assholes doing that to my house one day. Holy crap, was that incompetent.

      1. If it’s in the public interest to destroy this house to apprehend a subject, then it should be the responsibility of the public to pay for it.

        If the public refuses to pay for it, then they must determine that it was not in the public interest, and therefore, the act was wrong and the people responsible are liable.

        That’s literally the only two ways to view that fiasco.

        1. Of course not, there’s a magical third way of thinking that says that homeowner is somehow morally culpable to bear the entire cost of that pursuit operation. It’s insane, but it exists… 😉

  14. There was a period of time at the end of May, stretching into early June, when it was entirely reasonable we could get reform on QI, or even abolish it. I don’t think the mere concept of QI is destructive, but it’s application is flawed.

    It’s hard to abolish a court precedent through the courts because you need a specific case on the issue to challenge the standards and then it will be passed up the courts, and the Supreme Court has too many cases to hear everything. It’s a very time-consuming process. But court precedents aren’t law, and so therefore can be defined or overturned by legislative processes.

    And there was actual momentum for this. Unfortunately, instead of accepting the small victory that could be obtained in reforms by either abolishing QI or at least legislating it to curbs its abuse, those demanding reforms demanded more. Much more. And they lumped all their requests together and demanded you accept either every aspect of them or else accept nothing.

    So they asked for too much and got nothing, and because they got nothing, protests died down but riots continued. The riots turned people off to the message of the reforms since they’re visiting destruction for its own sake. Maybe we don’t need reform, people think, maybe we just need police to crack down on the violence.

    What’s worse, this also increases support for the revolutionaries. They see that waiting on the actual process of needed reforms isn’t succeeding. Why have any faith that there’s ever going to be a substantial fix for QI, or for Civil Asset Forfeiture, or for ending the War on Drugs, when massive support for these causes leads to legislative deadlock? If the system is failing, fuck the system.

    The conclusion is the inherent danger behind the “All-or-nothing” approach to legislative reforms. Incremental changes are the way to fix bad laws and bad policies. Revolutions, trying to start from the ground up, are bad.

  15. Reason insists that social media giant deserves liability protection (despite them acting like a publisher at every turn) but argues in favor of abolishing QI for cops.

    Yes, FB doesn’t go around shooting people. But the unintended consequences for abolishing QI is cops avoiding dangerous situations or potential recruits being dried up. The result is more black deaths, which we’re already seeing now in some cities.

    That is a more disastrous outcome than something like FB and Twitter banning all political posts to avoid a lawsuit, which apparently counts as a strike against freedom of speech. But it’s not. Those are merely forums, my rights aren’t violated if I don’t have free access to one. The market will provide alternatives.

    If 100 more black people died a year because cops held back, the media will not care. Seriously, they don’t care. They already don’t care about someone like Tony Timpa. Cops shot 15 unarmed blacks last year, even with the drug wars.

    1. With QI abolished the only protection cops lose is the protection to screw up on the job or to act illegally.

      Otherwise they are still covered under Absolute Immunity.

    2. As Nash Tiger wrote above:

      https://reason.com/2020/09/05/abolish-qualified-immunity/#comment-8445434

      the literal goal isn’t to completely get rid of immunity but instead to reform the ridiculous standard where it has to be proven that the police officer’s conduct crossed a line that was clearly established by a court case with like circumstances. Instead, the line of what a police officer can and cannot do should be written in law.

    3. Section 230 doesn’t give social media liability protection. It merely differentiates between user-contributed content, for which the user is liable, and company-provided content, for which the company is liable.

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  18. “how to use the momentum of this summer’s tumultuous protests productively”

    Sadly, people rarely wait for a court ruling anymore before commencing their “mostly peaceful protest.” If you’re just trying to appease the mostly-peacefuls, it won’t work.

    By all means, abolish QI because it’s bad (and replace it with loser pays), but how likely is it that the mostly-peacefuls are interested in, or will inspire, any constructive action to reform the legal system?

  19. If they were held criminally responsible QI wouldn’t be such a problem.

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  21. How did we get from a very good decision that a policeman arresting someone and putting them in jail over a local law that was eventually overturned isn’t personally liable for damages due to simply carrying out the ordinary workings of an ordinance, to these crazy decisions absolving police and other officials from liability for…well, you’ve read these stories? Surely there’s a stopping point before officials would be effectively unable to carry out their duties until others got sued and won.

  22. Get rid of QI.

    More frivolous lawsuits? Then let’s have frivolous lawsuit reform, not immunity for every law enforcement officer in the country.

    Don’t like expensive malpractice insurance? Then change policing or get rid of bad cops. Anything like insurance that adds a incentive there is a good thing.

  23. “Qualified Immunity” – The actually non-legal signal term used by the judicial department to excuse unjust judicial rulings with the excuse of intentionally intertwining the executive and judicial branches of government.

    Let each case be ruled-on by a completely separate branch of a multi-branch government. No special excuses for the executive branch….

    1. … After all; Isn’t allowing the executive to run wild without the oversight of a distinct judiciary EXACTLY how this country went communist anyways? What’s a football game with no football rule-book and only game-plans anyways? A bloody war.

  24. The courts created qualified immunity for cops. They also created immunity for prosecutors, judges, and presidents. Those are perks of the jobs, don’t you know. Power always corrupts.

    1. And a judge, who doesn’t support QI for a cop, will worry that his QI might be next.
      The next time he lets someone out on bail that goes and commits a serious crime will result in him/her being sued.
      Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen.

  25. May be we should end QI for leftists and D-Rats, otherwise; Crooked, Obama, Comey, MCabe, Strzok, Clapper, Brennan, and many others should be in jail for SPYING on a political campaign, and trying to overthrow a DULLY elected POTUS.

  26. The scam of qualified immunity not only shields bad cops, it also shields any number of public office holding trash of myriad size, shapes and colors. The above would likely include members of the judiciary.

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  28. It will be abolished if you want it to be.
    “The great masses of men, though theoretically free, are seen to submit supinely to oppression and exploitation of a hundred abhorrent sorts. Have they no means of resistance? Obviously they have. The worst tyrant, even under democratic plutocracy, has but one throat to slit. The moment the majority decided to overthrow him he would be overthrown. But the majority lacks the resolution; it cannot imagine taking the risks.”
    ~ H. L. Mencken (1926). “Notes on Democracy,” p. 50, Alfred A. Knopf

  29. We need to visit the ideology that the government and its agents have rights. I agree that everyone has a right to self-defense but, when you kick down the door to a man’s castle and shoot him in self-defense ,I think that oversteps the line.

    As far as I know everyone gives up their constitutional rights on the job except for the government and its agents. A police officer carries his personal constitutional right while taking yours. That’s why the citizen suspect always loses. The cops rights Trump his rights.

    And for those of you that think that criminals have no rights, a criminal’s rights are your rights. If he doesn’t have any neither do you.

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