Is qualified immunity unlawful?

That is the title of this new paper by our friend and colleague William Baude (@WilliamBaude on Twitter), a law professor and legal scholar at the University of Chicago. The qualified immunity doctrine is supposed to protect public officials from frivolous claims, but in practice, this judicially-created defense makes it next to impossible for us to sue public officials (like police officers) when they violate our constitutional rights (like killing unarmed civilians or breaking into our houses without a warrant). Moreover, Baude’s thought-provoking thesis poses a deeper and more intriguing question beyond the qualified immunity doctrine: what happens when it is the judges themselves who violate our constitutional rights? After all, aren’t judges supposed to hold public officials accountable; not shield them from the risk of litigation, a risk that private firms are exposed to?

Image result for qualified immunity definition

Credit: jaden

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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5 Responses to Is qualified immunity unlawful?

  1. Kathy H says:

    Police officers can be sued for intentionally violating someones constitutional rights. Although qualified immunity makes it more difficult to prove intent. Couldn’t a police officer who is convicted of murder be sued?

  2. Kathy H says:

    Thank you. I think the problem is with the perception of “reasonable”. It is as though police are automatically given the assumption that their actions are reasonable and therefore protected. I agree with Sotomayor.

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