Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Trust the World's Fastest VPN with Your Internet Security & Freedom - A Lifetime Subscription of PureVPN at 88% off. Also, Slashdot's Facebook page has a chat bot now. Message it for stories and more. ×

Submission + - Is it time to hold police officers accountable for constitutional violations? (washingtonpost.com)

schwit1 writes: Recently the Supreme Court issued a summary opinion in the White v. Pauly case.A police officer was sued for killing a man during an armed standoff during which the officers allegedly never identified themselves as police. The Supreme Court, however, concluded that the officer had “qualified immunity.” That is, he was immune from a suit for damages, because his conduct — while possibly unconstitutional — was not obviously unconstitutional.

The doctrine of qualified immunity operates as an unwritten defense to civil rights lawsuits brought under 42 U.S.C. 1983. It prevents plaintiffs from recovering damages for violations of their constitutional rights unless the government official violated “clearly established law,” usually requiring a specific precedent on point. This article argues that the doctrine is unlawful and inconsistent with conventional principles of statutory interpretation.

Members of the Supreme Court have offered three different justifications for imposing such an unwritten defense on the text of Section 1983. One is that it derives from a common law “good faith” defense; another is that it compensates for an earlier putative mistake in broadening the statute; the third is that it provides “fair warning” to government officials, akin to the rule of lenity.

But on closer examination, each of these justifications falls apart, for a mix of historical, conceptual, and doctrinal reasons. There was no such defense; there was no such mistake; lenity ought not apply. And even if these things were otherwise, the doctrine of qualified immunity would not be the best response.

The unlawfulness of qualified immunity is of particular importance now. Despite the shoddy foundations, the Supreme Court has been reinforcing the doctrine of immunity in both formal and informal ways. In particular, the Court has given qualified immunity a privileged place on its agenda reserved for few other legal doctrines besides habeas deference. Rather than doubling down, the Court ought to be beating a retreat.

Government officials, especially those with the power that Law Enforcement officers have, should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.

Comment Re:Great! Now if only they would make upgrades eas (Score 1) 78

They'd be much better served by using a pfSense device and setting a calendar reminder every 3 - 6 months to log in and click the "Upgrade" button.

Logging in and clicking? No thanks. I'm not dealing with dozens of remote devices that way. If it can't be automated it is just a hobbyist product.

So, you like automated unattended updates? I'm sure nothing could go wrong with that..

Slashdot Top Deals

Real Users find the one combination of bizarre input values that shuts down the system for days.

Working...