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Left-Liberal Alliance Introduces House and Senate Bills to End Qualified Immunity for Police Officers : politics

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You’re actually wrong about that. This is distinctly a federal issue, because qualified immunity is a federal court doctrine.

The civil rights act of 1871 enacted a provision that said citizens of the united states have the right to sue for money damages and attorneys fees if they are “deprived of their rights” under color of law. (whether that be federal or state law). It’s codified at 42 USC 1983.

The statute sat unused for the better part of 90 years, but came into dramatic use in the civil rights era when lawsuits were filed against police related to their unlawful suppression of civil rights protestors and harassment of civil rights activists.

In the context of that, in 1971, the US Supreme Court ruled in Pierson v Ray that a police officer could not be liable for violating someone’s civil rights unless they knowingly violated a “clearly established” Civil Right.

The Court’s ruling in Pierson v Ray was 8-1, and was not totally unreasonable. A police officer had ordered African American protesters off of a bus or threatened them with arrest subject to the law at the time and was sued for enforcing the law. The rationale was that police officers should not be in the position of having to individually choose between being charged with dereliction of duty by their supervisors or being sued for violating rights, they should only be sued when they know or should know they’re violating people’s rights.

but since that time the doctrine has evolved well past its original roots to basically protect any officers as long as they can claim they were acting in good faith because they “didn’t know” that they were violating people’s rights.

I agree with the article. The doctrine was created by federal courts and could be reversed either by statute or by the courts, and it’s time for the doctrine to be ended or substantially scaled back. it’s long progressed past it’s original rationale that individual police officers shouldn’t be held liable based on things a court may decide after the fact, to being used to unecessarily delay and bar civil rights suits and protect some pretty shocking misbehavior.

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