Author Topic: 'Violation eludes vindication': Left/Right Alliance Urges Supreme Court to Reform Police Immunity  (Read 563 times)

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Offline Elderberry

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Take Care by By Emma Andersson  and Jay Schweikert 7/11/2019

Alexander Baxter was bitten by a police dog unleashed on him while he was sitting with his hands in the air, having surrendered to police. Last year, a federal appeals court held that Mr. Baxter cannot sue the police who perpetrated this unreasonable attack because of a rule called “qualified immunity.” Now, both the ACLU and the Cato Institute are calling on the Supreme Court to reconsider this rule.

As lawyers for the Cato Institute and the ACLU, we often hold different views about the law. And on the Supreme Court, Justices Sotomayor and Thomas are not the most common allies. But something that unites all four of us is our criticism of “qualified immunity”—a judicial doctrine that shields government officials from liability for their misconduct, even when they break the law.

After the Civil War, in order to stop state-sponsored and state-condoned violence against newly freed Black citizens, Congress passed a law allowing those whose constitutional rights have been violated to sue for damages.  But the Supreme Court then created a rule of “qualified immunity,” that lets government officials off the hook if the law was not “clearly established.