Civil Rights Groups to Congress: End QI

Twenty-nine civil rights groups want to end qualified immunity (QI). On July 7, a group of 29 civil rights groups wrote a letter to federal lawmakers. In their letter, the group calls on Congress to end QI. This group includes prominent organizations such as the ACLU, the Human Rights Campaign, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. As The Hill reports, the letter raises “concerns regarding the state of [police reform] negotiations.” Specifically, qualified immunity.

Along with these civil rights organizations, groups that have also called on Congress to end QI include nonprofits, business leaders, and athletes. 

From the letter: “We write to express our serious concerns…about the state of negotiations on qualified immunity and empowering victims of police misconduct to hold law enforcement officers and agencies accountable through civil lawsuits.”

In March, the US House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA). Among its measures, the police-reform package seeks to strike down qualified immunity. However, as The Hill notes, “the fate of qualified immunity [in the JPA] remains unknown.” QI is “a main sticking point” in negotiations. The bill has stalled in the Senate. Republicans want to keep the doctrine intact.

In their letter, the 29 civil rights groups call QI “an affront to our legal system and to the pursuit of justice.” Furthermore, they say that any legislation that doesn’t remove QI “may take us backwards.” Meaning, holding on to QI would maintain the existing “stiff legal barriers” to accountability. And no accountability for bad cops means no real progress on police reform.

So when can we expect an outcome? According to The Hill, the bipartisan commission currently negotiating the JPA hopes to “[finalize] a proposal in the coming weeks.” 

Read the article on the civil rights group’s letter to Congress here.
Read the civil rights group’s letter calling on Congress to end QI here.