Clark Neily | May 25, 2021
One year ago today, George Floyd was murdered by armed agents of the state. Their employer, the Minneapolis Police Department, initially attributed Floyd’s death to a “medical incident,” for which officers had taken him to the hospital. But because 17‐year‐old Darnella Frazier captured the horrific incident on video—and perhaps only for that reason—we know what really happened: George Floyd was brutally asphyxiated by police over a period of nearly ten minutes while he called out for his mother and bystanders begged to intervene.
Jay Schweikert | May 14, 2021
Yesterday, the IndyStar published an op-ed by Republican Senator Mike Braun on the subject: “The federal government should not reform local police departments.” On the whole, the piece is a jumble of contradictions, partisan mudslinging, and unseemly fawning over law enforcement. But wedged between all of that are also some grossly inaccurate policy arguments, the most important of which is Sen. Braun’s assertion that he opposes “any reform to the current doctrine of qualified immunity” because the doctrine “extends critical protections for law enforcement officers who are forced to act in split-second scenarios when lives are on the line.”
Clark Neily | May 14, 2021
As we approach the one‐year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder by Minneapolis police, Congress stands at a crossroads: It can deliver the real reform it has repeatedly promised by overhauling qualified immunity, or it can settle for a package of largely meaningless window dressing that leaves untouched our indefensible policy of near‐zero accountability for police. From a purely policy standpoint, the choice is a no‐brainer. As explained below, it’s good politics as well.
James Craven | May 10, 2021
The theoretical justification for the many absurd outcomes of qualified immunity cases is that without the clear guidance of existing case law, public officials would not be able to discern what conduct is permissible under the plain text of the Constitution. There are a lot of flaws with this reasoning, but a new article from noted immunity studies scholar and UCLA Professor Joanna Schwartz has identified a particularly damning one: police officers don’t study “clearly established law” at all.
Jay Schweikert | May 7, 2021
The Major Cities Chiefs Association (“MCCA”) is an organization of 79 police chiefs, commissioners, and sheriffs representing the largest cities in the United States and Canada. Last year, I wrote about how the MCCA put out a misleading “Law Enforcement Reform Policy Statement,” which said that the organization “opposes repealing or amending the qualified immunity statute” (even though, of course, there is no qualified immunity statute).