Ryan Grim and Robby Soave react to a new Supreme Court ruling on qualified immunity for law enforcement.

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46 COMMENTS

  1. Are you sure you read it correctly? The top portion is the 6th circuit court decision put on exhibit. If you look through the document, Judge Thomas pointed out a number of errors and reversed the 6th circuit courts decision and allowed the plantiff to continue with the lawsuit. The only reminder they put in is that the plaintiff, James King can not sue both the government and the 2 agents for "double recovery". He can not seek to sue both government and the agents for money, only the government or the agents.

    I think the pantiff is seeking (or should seek) to sue the government for punity damages for the agents' actions and criminal charges against the agents for the assault and violation of he's 4th Amendment rights (one of the agent brazenly took James King's wallet out of his pocket without consent). A successful criminal prosecution would bar the agents from being in law enforcement ever again. The agents are being sued separately. The agents would have to pay a fine, maybe some jail time, probation and seek another line of work. That also mean no pension or law enforcement salary.

    What is wrong with immunity. It's an all too convenient way to avoid being prosecuted or even to examine if wrongdoing falls under category of a crime. It prevents accountability, checks and balances.

    Qualified Immunity is actually Obstruction of Justice (a crime). It can be proven with this sentence, "Qualified Immunity blocks judicial process where government official can be determined to be innocent or guilty of wrongdoing."

  2. The SC is promising to check gun control, though that remains to be seen. But here with its unanimous decision, Left and Right, we see their true contempt for the Law they are supposed to defend and enforce!
    They are and will continue to prove themselves to be dyed-in-the-wool Authoritarians, ie., Tories, and enemies of the American Republic!
    JWC

  3. Tasers are great because they protect both the citizen and the Police from excessive physical contact. Instead of a stepping on necks, an officer can just give you a zap with the taze gun and you’re flat on your face paralyzed. No broken bones no choke holds ect…and cease any further potential hostile contact. Tasers can prevent officers from having to hide behind qualified immunity.

  4. I am not yet decided about qualified immunity. First some background. Police are not immune to criminal charges; qualified immunity is only about civil lawsuits. Civil lawsuits only require "a preponderance of the evidence" (51%) and a majority of the jury (not unanimity), unlike criminal trials. You can sue the city, and if you can make the bar you can sue an individual who is protected by qualified immunity. Since in general you can sue anybody for anything, with good or bad reasons, this is a special exemption – and it didn't come about accidentally.

    It used to be considered wisdom that one should fully understand why a fence was constructed, before tearing it down.

    OK, so what if we removed qualified immunity? It might result in fewer abuses of authority by police, which is a hope which I share. If you have in mind civil lawsuits being filed only rarely in the case of some major abuse, that sounds pretty good, an easy win.

    But what if a large fraction of those whom an officer interacts with choose to file a civil lawsuit, knowing that the bar is much lower and there is a potential jackpot; or even just as legal harassment. Even if the officer wins the large bulk of civil suits, it could keep officers tied up on court almost continually – resulting in great reluctance to actually do their jobs and incur extra liability. The reason the fence was built was to public official (including emergency services personnel) could do their job without being constantly harassed with lawsuits.

    In other words, along with the potential benefits, there could be some pretty substantial "unintended consequences" which should be considered. Look before you leap.

    Think about it: the Supreme Court was unanimous – including the strong liberals and conservatives. There must be something serious in their considerations to get such agreement across the spectrum, which raises a flag we should pay attention to. That doesn't mean we should stop discussing it, just that we should go deeper and not accept just superficial arguments, because we're getting a signal that some particularly well informed people deeply on the left and right also have serious concerns about ending it.

    But there's something which is rarely mentioned: MANY or most public officials and politicians also have qualified immunity, for the same reason. (Would you want to run for local office if you knew it meant continual civil lawsuits targeting you personally?) Most of the naive proposals are unaware or unconcerned about that, and would retain that immunity.

    So my proposal is that any experimentation with removing qualified immunity be done incrementally. Start by removing qualified immunity for legislators and public officials like mayors and governors. If over the following year or two, that works out well, expend who is not covered by QI. If on the other hand, there are problems, then refine and modify and test again (or abandon). Get it sorted out well, then expand to critical services.

    I personally would like to see some changes in regard to qualified immunity for first responders (fire and police and EMTs). But I realize things could become worse rather than better, if it's not well done. So don't START the experiment with critical first responders, start with the easier and less complex cases, like the qualified immunity that legislators receive.

    If office holders and legislators are not willing to lead by first giving up their own qualified immunity (or modifying it), we should question their grasp of the full situation.

  5. The ambiguity of qualified immunity

    The universal police code is "comply now, complain later."
    If an arrested person does not obey an officer's command, regardless of whether the command is legal or justified, police often feel entitled to respond violently. The darker a person's skin, the more violently they typically respond. And to compound the problem, officers then get leeway to charge arrestees whom they assault with resisting arrest. –Newsweek by David Henderson 6/12/20

  6. The Supreme Court is a Bunch of RIght Wing Sell Outs… They See Justice as a Political Tool, and not for what it is…. New Justices should be Appointed every 10 years.. No One is Above the Law, and No One should be Given a Life TIme Position just because your on the Supreme Court… If a President Can't hold more than "Two" terms, then why should a Justice… It's time to change the Rules to a Fairer System….

  7. Elite media pundits speaking about things and making judgments about policy that will have no affect on them. Good luck getting anyone to do certain high risk jobs when they can be personally sued. The law suit itself will bankrupt an officer with attorney fees alone whether they are innocent of the allegations or not. But I guess such a position sounds good when you don't quite want to go as far as defund the police but want to virtue signal that you support doing something.

  8. The fragility of the state trapped in unhealthy codependent relationships with an unprecedented concentration of monopoly wealth and power in America, which the government allowed, has undermined large social movements' ability to effect justice reforms like in the 60s and 70s.

  9. Until "qualified immunity" is removed ny "law" and these militarized thugs with badges are held 100% ACCOUNTABLE…
    NOTHING will change and "the state" will continue to protect its gestapo agents who uphold and protect one of the most oppressive and draconian economic inequalities anywhere on this planet using an oppressive "color of law" monopoly on "legalized" violence !!!

  10. Put it for a National vote from all American's to vote to have it removed . That is the right thing to do . I am sure it would be voted to remove it . Remember cops point guns at innocent people . Don't people have the right for self defense from police . No Laws say we don't .

  11. Another important change that Black Lives Matter may have inspired is the awesome work being done by your First Amendment Auditors. Kudos for recording public officials in the performance of their jobs. Super shade to those officials that do not respect the constitution by accosting those citizens.

  12. Ryan hit it out of the park. Yes there are bad apples and we cannot cull the bad apples from the crop working for police forces due to the incredible power the police union lobbyist exert over government. Just another example of how the divided states of 'murica says one thing (freedom, liberty) and then does the other (citizens united). Yours is the country banana republics point to when they want to feel good about themselves.

  13. Of course qualified immunity has been approved by the folks that gain from qualified immunity. I recall someone putting forth the idea, "Collusion occurs when the state and the states actors collude to take your freedom or money from you. The cops work for the municipality (state) and the municipality (state) administers to the courts. Does sound a lot like collusion to me. May I suggest having all settlements arising from law suits against the police come from their union coffers.