Cato Amicus Briefs

Statutory materials

  • 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (“Section 1983”)—Our primary federal civil rights statute, which made public officials liable for infringements on constitutional liberties.

Major Supreme Court cases

  • Little v. Barreme, 6 U.S. (2 Cranch) 170 (1804)—early case that considered and rejected a good-faith defense for government agent acting unlawfully
  • Myers v. Anderson, 238 U.S. 368 (1915)—rejecting application of good-faith defense to claims brought under Section 1983
  • Pierson v. Ray, 386 U.S. 547 (1967)—first Supreme Court cases recognizing qualified immunity
  • Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982)—case that established qualified immunity in its modern, basing the doctrine on whether the defendant’s conduct violated “clearly established law”
  • Ziglar v. Abbasi, 137 S. Ct. 1843 (2017)—granting qualified immunity on a civil conspiracy claim; notable for Justice Thomas’s concurrence, criticizing the Court’s qualified immunity jurisprudence and urging the Court to reconsider the doctrine
  • Kisela v. Hughes, 138 S. Ct. 1152 (2018)—granting qualified immunity to police officer who shot a woman who posed no threat and committed no crime; notable for Justice Sotomayor’s dissent (joined by Justice Ginsburg) criticizing qualified immunity as an “absolute shield for law enforcement officers” that “gut[s] the deterrent effect of the Fourth Amendment”

Academic resources

Other notable cases & articles