What is Qualified Immunity?

What is Qualified Immunity?
  • President Donald Trump signed an executive order dealing with police reform. 
  • Senate Republicans introduced the JUSTICE Act.
  • The death of George Floyd has led activists to call for the end of qualified immunity for police.
  • Officers around the country are resigning amid the protests.

(NewsReady.com) – The death of George Floyd at the hands of a then-Minneapolis officer on May 25 has led to calls for police reform in America. The House of Representatives, Senate, and President Donald Trump have all taken steps to address the issue.

Republican lawmakers and the president are trying to approach the problem and protect everyone, including the law enforcement officers who put their lives on the line every day. Some Democrats, however, are eager to get rid of qualified immunity.

What exactly is qualified immunity?

Protecting The Police

Qualified immunity means police officers usually aren’t held liable for an offense, unless a court in the jurisdiction where they work has heard a case nearly identical to theirs and ruled an action illegal.

For decades, the highest court in the land has ruled police officers and other civil servants, like officials in the federal government, can’t be held personally liable unless they violate a “clearly established” right. Recently, the Supreme Court refused to hear a case that challenged qualified immunity for police officers.

In Pearson v. Callahan, the Supreme Court held the immunity balances “the need to hold public officials accountable” when they act irresponsibly and protects them “from harassment, distraction, and liability” when they do their jobs well.

Keep Officers Safe

Police officers risk their lives every time they put on their uniforms because their job is incredibly dangerous. They encounter many people who don’t like them and not in a normal, ”Hey, we don’t get along,” kind of way. There are plenty who actively hate cops and want to punish them or simply don’t care about law enforcement officials. These people would not be above suing officers for anything.

Should the people who protect and serve us have to spend thousands on legal counsel to fight malicious lawsuits? That’s what we have to ask ourselves.

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