Elizabeth Wydra supports the Ending Qualified immunity Act (EQIA). Wydra is a litigator and president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. Recently, she penned an op-ed for The Hill on qualified immunity (QI). Like many constitutional scholars, Wydra has issues with the court-created doctrine. In her piece, Elizabeth Wydra states that qualified immunity must end. And the best bet for abolishing the doctrine in the EQIA.
In The Hill, Wydra discusses recent high-profile cases involving QI. For example, she begins her article examining Shase Howse’s case. In 2016, police assaulted the young Black man outside his home. Shase sued. But the courts gave the bad cops QI “because there was no prior case exactly like Howse’s.” This example, Wydra notes, “enables the cycle of police violence to continue without accountability.” (Shase Howse’s story is featured in Ben Cohen’s new book, Above the Law: How “Qualified Immunity” Protects Violent Police.)
Elizabeth Wydra on EQIA
Elizabeth Wydra also believes that ending qualified immunity for bad cops is not enough: “Congress should make clear that all government officials should be held accountable,” she writes. Wydra shares two cases where people in a position of power faced no accountability for abusing their authority. The first case involved a school nurse who subjected a 13-year-old girl to a strip search. The other centered on prison guards using excessive force on an inmate. Both the nurse and the prison guard were granted QI in civil court.
These cases highlight why Elizabeth Wydra endorses the Ending Qualified Immunity Act. She supports the bill because it “would eliminate qualified immunity across the board, not just in the context of policing.” Wydra feels the Ending Qualified Immunity Act is more robust than the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. Cases that don’t involve cops “are not covered by the Justice in Policing Act,” Wydra writes.
The bottom line: “The doctrine of qualified immunity must be ended completely.” And if passed, that’s exactly what the Ending Qualified Immunity will do.
Read Elizabeth Wydra’s entire op-ed in support of the EQIA here.