Congress Discusses Removing Qualified Immunity

by Jack Lee

The Supreme Court created qualified immunity in 1967, describing it as a modest exception for public officials who had acted in “good faith” and believed that their conduct was authorized by law.

Qualified immunity protects police officers from civil suits while acting within the scope of their sworn duty.  It does not protect them from prosecution for criminal offenses.  Qualified immunity to protects police officers from being harassed by frivolous or unwarranted civil suits that would prevent or reduce their ability to perform their duty.  This serves the greater good and the interests of the nation.

The unfortunate death of George Floyd in Minneapolis has once again inflamed the black community and galvanized a number of  militant groups with varying agendas.  That has contributed to the mob violence in a half dozen large cities.   The City of Seattle has lost control over it’s capitol hill region to anarchists while the mayor and governor dither, unsure what to do.  In San Francisco demonstrators torn down the statue of Francis Scott Key in Golden Gate Park in full view of police who were ordered not to intervene by the mayor.  Other old historical monuments are being desecrated under the pretext of ridding ourselves of racism.  A climate likely to start mob violence now spreads from coast to coast fueled by allegations of police misconduct.

As a result, Congress is under pressure to prevent further rioting and looting.  The democrat controlled Congress views removing the qualified immunity protection as a way of appeasing the various protest groups that now allege systemic racism by law enforcement against black defendants, citing the case of George Floyd.  Congress is discussing how to remove this layer of protection from law enforcement nationwide.

On the other hand….under our current system, law enforcement is the only entity that can be charged with both a Civil Rights violation and the underlying criminal offense, thus resulting in double jeopardy.  For example, an officer found guilty of involuntary manslaughter can be charged again under Section 242 of Title 18 USC which makes it a crime for a person acting under color of authority to willfully deprive a person of a right or privilege protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States.   This federal crime can carry a sentence far more harsh than the punishment for the original criminal offense! So they get one (qualified immunity) and they lose one, (double jeopardy).

The American people once recognized that police officers must frequently confront violent criminals, often at the risk of their own lives in order to protect ours.   The Supreme Court  offered them qualified immunity so the police could perform their dangerous duties to the fullest extent possible by law.  The citizens thought this was good for their police force and good for our society, until recently.

Now consider this:

About 700,000 police officers are charged with the protection of life and property in a country of over 350,000,000 citizens.  Every year police can expect over 280,000,000 9-1-1 calls.  Out of that number, there are millions more contacts that are self-initiated by police.  That represents many opportunities for something to go terribly wrong and occasionally it does.

According to the statistical data kept by the FBI and the Dept. of Justice,  police were cleared of all wrongful death shootings and in-custody deaths, with the exception of two cases last year that are now pending trial.  On average questionable deaths by police range between 4 and 6 per year.  Of the total average of police involved shooting deaths over the last 5 years, 24% involved black males suspects.  This percentage is suspiciously overrepresented because blacks comprise only 13% of the US population.  Many progressive groups cite this as clear evidence of systemic racism in law enforcement.

However, upon closer review, evidence shows that black male suspects represented a majority all violent crimes.  The FBI UCR 2016 – Of adults arrested for murder, 52.0 percent were Black or African American, 45.4 percent were White, and 2.6 percent were of other races.  White individuals were arrested more often for violent crimes than individuals of any other race and accounted for 59.0 percent of those arrests.  Black or African American juveniles comprised 52.0 percent of all juveniles arrested for violent crimes.  Therefore the 25% number of shooting deaths of blacks is not overrepresented at all, but is actually under represented!

A growing number of citizens have been seduced by the lies and treachery from well funded, militarized organizations claiming to represent the black minority.  Those groups are determined to rewrite our history in order to gain traction for the eventual over throw our current form of government – that they claim is an institution built on racism.

Our first line of defense against this takeover is law enforcement.  They are sworn to protect and defend the Constitution as well as our lives and property, but without our support they are struggling against overwhelming odds.

For the so called social justice militants to succeed they must first destroy the institution of law enforcement as we now know it and that starts with discrediting police within our community.   It’s worth repeating, law enforcement can’t do their job without our community support.   To change our government the American people must be convinced that law enforcement [IS] the problem and that all the rioting and looting is a justifiable response to their systemic racism.  In other words, the police made them burn, loot and riot.  A classic defense position among narcissistic criminals.

So, I ask you…. is the militant left winning the hearts and minds of leftwing progressives and their socialist allies?  Is Black Lives Matters selling what the black community wants to hear, what progressives want to hear?   Is the average American no longer appreciative to the thin blue line that is sworn to protect them?

Qualified immunity was a small gift from a grateful nation and it would appear that as a nation…. we are no longer grateful.

 

 

 

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26 Responses to Congress Discusses Removing Qualified Immunity

  1. Pie Guevara says:

    One has to wonder about Chris. The guy doesn’t understand plain English and doesn’t think at all. Typical left-wing Democrat.

    What part of — “Qualified immunity protects police officers from civil suits while acting within the scope of their sworn duty. It does not protect them from prosecution for criminal offenses.” — does Chris not understand?

    As to the story Chris links to — “Daniel fired two shots intended to scare off the unidentified intruders.”

    Let me get this straight, police officers in uniform entering a home and declaring that they have the place surrounded are UNIDENTIFIED INTRUDERS?

    What a crock.

    Forbes Magazine’s George Leef writes — they [ordinary citizens] can’t escape responsibility by saying, “But we did not know that was illegal.” This idiotic assertion clearly implies that police officers have tried to escape responsibility by saying “But we did not know that was illegal.”

    George Leef is an ass. Name a police officer who has ever said such a ridiculous thing.

    Forbes Magazine is an ass for publishing this crap.

    Bad cops HAVE BEEN held accountable despite the fact that many people believe that bad cops are not. Only an ignorant left-wing political stooge with an axe to grind could declare that bad cops have not been held accountable for their crimes. That absurd assertion is utter nonsense.

    Some officers have been held accountable for their crimes, some have been ruled IN COURT as not having committed a crime. Whether one may think the courts are failing in trying police is an opinion, not a fact.

    “There are too many cases of police getting away with murder due to qualified immunity in ways that absolutely defy common sense.”

    This idiotic statement absolutely defies common sense. Name and enumerate the “too many” “getting away with murder” due to (or not due) to qualified immunity. Put up or shut up.

    • J. Soden says:

      If Clowngress takes away LEO’s qualified immunity, they should also include removing legislation that restricts lawsuits on sitting elected officials.

      And I never waste my time with Chris’ harangues. I just skip to the next comment.

      • cherokee jack says:

        …..”And I never waste my time with Chris’ harangues. I just skip to the next comment.”

        We agree again, J. Reading his nonsense is the blog equivalent of dumpster diving. I’ve given up both.

    • Chris says:

      Typical left-wing Democrat.

      A typical left-wing Democrat would open an argument by appealing to conservative principles and then cite evidence from a libertarian writing for a center-right publication? Fascinating.

      What part of — “Qualified immunity protects police officers from civil suits while acting within the scope of their sworn duty. It does not protect them from prosecution for criminal offenses.” — does Chris not understand?

      I understand all of it, and none of what I wrote contradicts any part of it.

      Let me get this straight, police officers in uniform entering a home and declaring that they have the place surrounded are UNIDENTIFIED INTRUDERS?

      They couldn’t see the officers, Pie. You also didn’t address the part where the officers did not have probable cause to surround the house in the way that they did in the first place.

      The officers created this tense situation that got people killed–do you really think they shouldn’t face any consequences for that?

      Forbes Magazine’s George Leef writes — they [ordinary citizens] can’t escape responsibility by saying, “But we did not know that was illegal.” This idiotic assertion clearly implies that police officers have tried to escape responsibility by saying “But we did not know that was illegal.”

      George Leef is an ass. Name a police officer who has ever said such a ridiculous thing.

      That’s exactly what the doctrine of qualified immunity holds, though–that unless they can find a previous case with nearly identical facts in which police were prosecuted, the officers can’t have been expected to know that they were violating a person’s constitutional rights. This is clearly explained in the article.

      Forbes Magazine is an ass for publishing this crap.

      They are hardly the only ones with a similar take. Here’s David French in the National Review:

      I’m going to start with a story that will break your heart. In the early morning hours of July 15, 2012, a young man named Andrew Scott was up late, home with his girlfriend. They were playing video games when they heard a loud pounding on the door. Alarmed, Scott grabbed a pistol and opened the door. He saw a man crouching outside in the darkness. Scott retreated, gun still at his side, pointing down to the ground.

      Almost instantly, the crouching figure fired his own weapon. The encounter was over in two seconds. Scott lay on the ground, dead. The man who fired? He was a police officer. He was at the wrong house. Andrew Scott was a completely innocent man who had done nothing more than exercise his constitutional right to keep and bear arms in defense of his own home.

      As for the officer? Well, not only was he at the wrong house, but he had no search warrant even for the correct house, he had not turned on his emergency lights, and he did not identify himself as police when he pounded on the door.

      The officer was never prosecuted. The state ruled that the shooting was “justified” — in part because it said the police had no obligation to identify themselves. Then, when Scott’s estate sued the officer for money damages, the court threw out the lawsuit. A panel from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. Then last year the entire court rejected en banc review.

      A police officer killed a completely innocent man because of the officer’s inexcusable mistake. He escaped criminal prosecution. And then he even escaped civil liability — because of a little-known, judge-made legal doctrine called qualified immunity.

      …And how does one determine what is a “clearly established” right? After all, the First Amendment seems relatively clearly established. As does the Fourth Amendment. And the Second. And the Sixth.

      But no. As the doctrine developed, to prove that a right is clearly established, the plaintiff generally had to find and cite a remarkably similar case, with nearly identical facts, decided by a court of controlling jurisdiction.

      So, when Andrew Scott’s estate sought compensation for his death, it didn’t just have to prove that the officer had no warrant, knocked on the wrong door, and gunned down an innocent man in his own home; it also had to find another case “with facts similar to the undisputed facts” in Scott’s case. Oh, and the comparison had to be “particularized.” “High levels of generality” simply won’t do.

      https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/09/end-qualified-immunity-supreme-court/

      This man was exercising his second amendment rights and defending his life and property…and the court found that the officer who violated those rights couldn’t be held accountable. Where was the NRA when this happened? Where was any Republican in Congress?

      Bad cops HAVE BEEN held accountable despite the fact that many people believe that bad cops are not. Only an ignorant left-wing political stooge with an axe to grind could declare that bad cops have not been held accountable for their crimes. That absurd assertion is utter nonsense.

      Some officers have been held accountable for their crimes, some have been ruled IN COURT as not having committed a crime. Whether one may think the courts are failing in trying police is an opinion, not a fact.

      I never said it was a fact. I presented it as an opinion. You are refusing to engage with that opinion critically and are instead ignoring clear evidence.

      This idiotic statement absolutely defies common sense. Name and enumerate the “too many” “getting away with murder” due to (or not due) to qualified immunity. Put up or shut up.

      I just gave you two cases. I’ve mentioned plenty others in the past. There are many, many more. If you care about the government trampling on innocent people’s rights and getting away with it, you will find more on your own. But it seems to me you won’t accept any evidence of this because it doesn’t fit your bias.

      • Pie Guevara says:

        WOW, what a load! Chris has just given me TWO cases. OH MY! TWO CASES! His absolutely asinine passing judgement on the police en large absolutely defies common sense.

        There are “many, many more”? Chris has mentioned plenty others in the past? What a crock. Does Chris really think anyone buys that pathetic baloney?

        AGAIN, enumerate and cite them you jive ass, blowhard, bull**it dork moron. You can’t because you are full of it

        DISMISSED. I will waste no more time on the likes of you Mr. Souza. It is far too painful to deal with such a ridiculous, lying cretin as you. Drop dead you inept, thoughtless, odious, witless, half-baked, left-wing extremist clown from jackass hell.

  2. Pie Guevara says:

    Outstanding post Jack.

    • Post Scripts says:

      Thank you Pie, as long as the radical left spews their hate and disinformation I will do my best to hit back with every relevant fact I can find. I hope you are doing well Pie. Time and health allowing, please feel free to send us a comment or post an article…. whenever you feel up to it. We love to read your work, it never fails to be brilliant and witty.

      • Pie Guevara says:

        Thank you Jack. I have had some health issues the past few months and my heart has not been in it. When I have the energy and drive I may post something. Sorry to leave you hanging out here all alone, but you are still carrying on and I am thankful for that. Semper fi my friend.

      • Pie Guevara says:

        Seriously Jack, this is an outstanding post. I found it reasoned and very informative. Thank you.

  3. Harold says:

    Humm, I can see a similarity to Seattle and the rest of unrest in the USA.

    Residents of the ancient Thai city of Lopburi are living in fear of marauding gangs of monkeys, (as in REAL monkey’s) as thousands of primates brawl with each other, attack shops, and take over the streets in search of food during the coronavirus lockdown.

    Lopburi province and the antics of its macaques have long lured hordes of foreign tourists who pose with them for selfies in exchange for free bananas. But as tourism dried up because of the global pandemic so too did the monkeys’ food supplies, prompting a violent turn in their behaviour.

    Local efforts to offer the monkey mobs some nutrition may have backfired as some say a sugary diet of fizzy drinks, cereal and sweets has fuelled the animals’ sex lives, making their population grow even more.

    “The more (free food and services) they eat, the more energy they have… so they breed more,” Pramot Ketampai, who manages the city’s Prang Sam Yod temple shrines, told AFP.

  4. Peggy says:

    Since all elected individuals and some other gov’t workers, including congress members, also have qualified immunity I doubt this will ever change. If it was it would open the door for them to lose it leaving them vulnerable to lawsuits.

    Remember Harry Reid saying on the senate floor that Romney hadn’t paid his taxes and Schifty Adam reading into the congressional record his made up conversation between Trump and the Ukraine president. Both would be held to slander laws. IMHO

    • Peggy says:

      Wrong again Chris. Even the president has qualified immunity, along with congress members. At least that’s what this leftist attorney in the Atlantic says.

      “The Supreme Court should have taken the chance to get rid of qualified immunity, as the Court invented it in the first place. Qualified immunity has no basis in constitutional or statutory text or history. Justice Clarence Thomas in fact dissented from Monday’s denials, going further than he had before in expressing misgivings about qualified immunity, even suggesting that future plaintiffs consider challenging additional constraints on civil-rights actions. But it is now clear that Congress will need to act in this area. While qualified immunity has come to be mainly applied, and is now being debated, in the context of police abuse cases, it was intended to shield a wide range of government officials. In doing so, it sets up a noteworthy catch-22, in which officials cannot be found liable if no one has ever been found liable for precisely the same conduct before.

      The argument for such immunity is that government officials—including presidents and police officers—shouldn’t be distracted from performing their duties by the threat of lawsuits, unless they know, or at least should know, that what they’re doing is wrong. Having worked both as legal counsel for high-level government officials and as a civil-rights lawyer, I know firsthand how hard overcoming qualified immunity is in practice—and just how “distracting” from the performance of one’s duties such a lawsuit would really be in a properly functioning legal system.”

      https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/06/congress-going-have-repeal-qualified-immunity/613123/

      • Chris says:

        Not sure why this won’t post–I’m gonna try this one more time.

        Peggy, I didn’t say members of congress don’t have qualified immunity, I said qualified immunity wouldn’t apply to the examples you brought up. Those comments were made on the floor and thus are protected by the Speech and Debate clause. Also, for qualified immunity to apply, there would have had to have been a civil rights violation. Even if you’re right that their words would be considered defamation absent the Speech and Debate Clause (and I think in Reid’s case you are right), qualified immunity still wouldn’t apply because defamation isn’t considered a violation of anyone’s civil rights.

        I would be in favor of getting rid of or at least drastically weakening qualfiied immunity for all government workers, including for those in education. There was a story a few years ago of school administrators subjecting a student to a strip-search. The court found that they violated the girl’s rights but were still protected by qualified immunity. That’s ridiculous and it prevented those administrators from being held accountable, just like QI often prevents police officers from being held accountable. Educators and police should know and understand the civil rights of the people they interact with on a daily basis, but according to the QI doctrine created by activist judges, there is no such expectation.

  5. Tina says:

    This was an outstanding post Jack!

    Congress will take some appeasing action, I suppose, it is an election year and the mob must be thrown bone. The activist rabble must be given a reward. The legislation won’t change a thing because the premise for it is deeply flawed.

    Police officers are not the problem. They arrive after crimes are committed or in progress. No crime…no officer. If you commit a crime and are caught do not resist arrest.

    And yes officers need to be protected from the highly emotional reactionaries that decide guilt even before evidence is collected. That’s not justice no matter how much you dress it up in the struggle.

    Our courts have a purpose. Our system works.

    Communities and families have a problem. It does not begin or end with the police. Clean your own house then we’ll talk. More black people have died at the hands of other black than by police officers…who are performing in very dangerous situations and risking their own lives!!

    This stuff gotta stop. It’s not about black deaths Anyway. The rabble are using that as an excuse. It’s about taking America down.

    Ain’t gonna happen no matter how superior some folks around here think they are.

    • Post Scripts says:

      Thank you Tina! You said a lot that was so right on! My most important takeaway from your comments was, and I quote you, “The rabble are using that as an excuse. It’s about taking America down.”

      I wish this were not true, but clearly this is it. And any critical thinker that has invested 10 minutes of their time studying this problem could see it now.

      Everything that BLM, the ANTIFA group, their anarchist pals, the wild eyed liberals, the Socialists, Communists and every militant far left group is united behind this one purpose…destroy America to reinvent it, even many within the democratic party feel this way. We may see a lot of gun smoke hanging in the air before it’s over, but I know that America, as it was created and meant to be, will still be standing in tact. American idealism is not a statue, it’s a noble idea and it lives inside patriots. They can’t throw a rope over it and tear it down, they will have to come after us and that will be their last act on this earth.

      • Peggy says:

        Of course it’s about taking down Trump. The Antifa/BLM “leaders” in Seattle are telling the people there to go home and vote for Biden. Since many of them involved in the cities’ takeovers were Bernie supporters this was a recruiting event for Biden at the expense of the poor people in Seattle and other democrat run cities.

        The democrat mayors could have stopped these takeovers at the beginning, but they chose not to. Just like the mayors could have ordered her/his police of chief to ban all choke holds. Poof, it’s done. Problem solved. No reason to riot. No need for congress to pass bills to nowhere when the solution was at the hands of the chiefs of police’s bosses.

        But, like you said this wasn’t about issues with police. It was and still is about taking out Trump attempt #4 or is it #5.

  6. Tina says:

    True to form Democrats block a bill from coming to the floor for debate even though it contained 80% of what they want in a police reform bill!! They just couldn’t stand the thought that Republicans would get credit for a bill benefitting black communities!

    Nancy Pelosi said Republicans we’re getting away with murder…don’t address the problem Nancy, fan the flames. What a -itch.

    By the way what has prevented local democrat run communities from banning choke holds? Absolutely nothing!

    The Democrat Party is total power hungry crap!

    • Peggy says:

      Nancy is a disgusting jackass. Pun intended. She even refused to apologize for her, ‘republicans are murderers’ remarks.

      Tim Scott’s impassioned 30 minute speech is heartbreaking to watch. He put his heart and soul into writing that bill for years working with Booker and Harris to earn their votes. They stabbed him in the back today when they voted against what they said they’d support.

    • Post Scripts says:

      Tina, all good points. Legislators once called getting 80% of what they wanted a big win! Now, it’s all or nothing and this goes back to the libs obsession for dethroning Trump. This democrat Congress won’t be happy until the country is in total chaos just so they can blame Trump.

      • Tina says:

        Now the hard left rioting rabble are defacing and attempting to remove monuments dedicated to those who fought to end slavery, one of which was paid for by freed slaves!!!

        And it turns out at least one of the BLM founders is cozy with Venezuela’s Maduro.

        • Post Scripts says:

          Tina I guess that tearing down historic statues was so much fun they just couldn’t stop themselves, even when it came to a statue honoring black citizens. Morons.

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