Should police officers and government officials be allowed to exercise qualified immunity?
• "The government of the United States has been emphatically termed a government of laws, and not of men. It will certainly cease to deserve this high appellation, if the laws furnish no remedy for the violation of a vested legal right." Source: Former Chief Justice John Marshall (Federalist Party)
• "The police are absolutely mistreated and misunderstood…The police in this country have done an unbelievable job of keeping law and order, and they're afraid for their jobs, they're afraid of the mistreatment they get, and I'm telling you that not only, me speaking, minorities all over the country, they respect the police of this country and we have to give them more respect. They can't act. They're afraid for losing their pension, their job. They don't know what to do. They want to do their job." Source: Donald Trump (45th U.S. President)
• "There can be no justice without healing and accountability, and there can be no true accountability with qualified immunity. We must act with urgency. We must be bold and unapologetic in our pursuit of policy that increases police accountability and addresses the crisis of police brutality plaguing Black and brown communities." Source: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 7)
• "We as a country have a choice: We can either choose police accountability, or choose qualified immunity, but we cannot choose both. The purpose of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act is not to second guess officers who act in good faith, the objective is to hold liable officers who repeatedly abuse their power and who rarely, if ever, face consequences for their repeat abuses." Source: Rep. Ritchie Torres (Democrat, New York, District 15)
• "If we want to change the culture of police violence against Black and Brown Americans, then we need to start holding accountable the officers who abuse their positions of trust and responsibility in our communities. That means once-and-for-all abolishing the dangerous judicial doctrine known as qualified immunity." Source: Sen. Ed Markey (Democrat, Massachusetts)
Qualified immunity, established by the Supreme Court in 1967, effectively protects state and local officials, including police officers, from personal liability unless they are determined to have violated what the court defines as an individual's "clearly established statutory or constitutional rights." With this bill, the deprivation of civil rights can no longer be defended under qualified immunity, and violent, excessive actions will be deemed unlawful. Sponsor: Rep. Ayanna Pressley (Democrat, Massachusetts, District 7)