Congress: End Qualified Immunity

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If someone assaults you, you can sue them for assault. If someone wrongfully kills your family member, you can sue them for wrongful death. But if government actors do either of these things in violation of your (or your family member's) constitutional rights, it is all but impossible to sue them and hold them accountable. This is because of a Supreme Court Doctrine known as "Qualified Immunity," and it is a huge obstacle for holding law enforcement accountable.

This week, U.S. Congressman Justin Amash, an independent from Michigan, is introducing the "Ending Qualified Immunity Act." This Act will eliminate qualified immunity and restore Americans’ ability to obtain relief when police officers violate their constitutionally secured rights. As Amash has stated, the "Civil Rights Act of 1871 gave individuals the right to sue local and state officials, including police officers, that violate their rights." But in 1967, the Supreme Court began gutting this law by creating the qualified immunity doctrine. Civil Rights groups from all across the political spectrum have taken action to end qualified immunity. For example, the CATO Institute has brought numerous challenges in court to end "our failed experiment with near‐​zero accountability for law enforcement." The ACLU says "qualified immunity is one of the many barriers standing in the way of justice and accountability when the police use excessive force disproportionately against people of color." There is a case currently pending before the Supreme Court (Baxter v. Bracey) in which the ACLU and CATO are jointly providing legal support, and are backed by other groups like the NAACP and the Alliance Defending Freedom. 

Government actors should not be held to less of a standard than the general public, they should be held to an even higher standard because of the power they hold.  Please consider signing this petition to tell Congress they need to pass the "Ending Qualified Immunity Act." George Floyd's murder is part of a much greater pattern of egregious police misconduct, and until police officers are no longer "legally, politically, and culturally insulated from consequences for violating the rights of the people they are sworn to protect," there can be no end to this pattern. Qualified Immunity is obviously only part of the problem, but it is an important one. Please also reach out to your representatives directly and tell them to support this bill. 

Additional Resources on Qualified Immunity: