Experts all agree: we need to end qualified immunity (QI). As we approach the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death, a number of legal experts voice their thoughts on police reform. Specifically, on the importance of ending qualified immunity (QI).
In Cato at Liberty, Clark Neily reflects on ending QI nationwide. Neily is a legal scholar and Senior Vice President at the Cato Institute. He’s an authority on the problematic QI doctrine. Clark Neily and the Cato Institute are coalition partners on the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity.
In his article, Neily argues that repealing qualified immunity is “still the key” to police reform. National lawmakers debate whether to keep provisions in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to end QI. As a result, he writes, Congress “stands at a crossroads.” Neily explains how without QI-ending provisions, police reform packages are essentially “meaningless window dressing.”
In New Hampshire, Chuck Douglas is another legal scholar discussing police accountability and ending qualified immunity. Douglas is a former New Hampshire Supreme Court Justice. And like Clark Neily, Chuck Douglas feels it’s time to hold bad cops accountable. New Hampshire is one of several states that have introduced measures to end QI.
In his op-ed for Patch.com, Douglas observes that the lack of accountability “breeds distrust of the police.” This distrust has a negative effect on good cops. As Douglas notes, it makes their job “even more dangerous than it is.” On the other hand, accountability bolsters the public’s trust in law enforcement. Thus, per Douglas, ending qualified immunity is pro-cop. “We need to back the blue,” the former NH Justice writes, “but sue the few who prove themselves unworthy of a badge.”
Like Clark Neily and Chuck Douglas, Yannick Wood closely studies QI. Wood is Director of the Criminal Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. He possesses a lot of insight on what it takes to improve the state of policing. Wood’s sentiments echo those of Neily and Douglas. He calls for “meaningful police accountability.” Wood knows that repealing QI will keep communities safe from bad cops who abuse their power.
“Protecting law enforcement officers from civil liability for violating the civil rights of community members is unjustified,” Yannick Wood writes for NJ.com. “Police are meant to protect and serve the public; when they violate their rights, they should be held accountable.” In his op-ed, Wood calls for New Jersey to pass “critically needed legislation” to end qualified immunity. Recently, Garden State lawmakers introduced a bill to do just that.
These credible arguments from three top-notch experts prove that although QI was court-created, it’s undoubtedly unconstitutional. Clark Neily sums it up when he says that the best way to honor George Floyd is “to ensure. . .genuine accountability.”