Institute for Justice Writes Op-Ed on QI

On June 24, the Institute for Justice (IJ) published an op-ed in USA Today. The op-ed discusses the compromises in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA). Per IJ, a leaked draft of the compromise bill “shows hope” for reforming qualified immunity (QI).

Anya Bidwell, Patrick Jaicomo, and Nick Sibella penned the op-ed. The three writers are IJ attorneys. Likewise, they’re coalition partners of the Campaign to End Qualified Immunity. 

After more than three months of negotiations, the JPA is finally ready to move forward. Lawmakers will soon present a bipartisan compromise. Under this compromise, the IJ attorneys note, “individual officers would not be held personally liable.” However, the leaked draft indicates that accountability is still on the table. And that’s crucial.

The USA Today op-ed explains that the new bill won’t eliminate QI for individual cops. But, QI reform will happen. Furthermore, the compromise centers on employer liability. This would allow victims of police misconduct to sue police departments (employers). “By addressing employer liability,” IJ’s Bidwell, Jaicomo, and Sibella write, “the Senate compromise would provide an additional path to hold law enforcement accountable [and] ensure that victims can be properly compensated.”

Another thing the JPA compromise bill does: close an “appalling loophole” that shields federal workers from accountability. These federal workers include FBI agents, Border Patrol employees, and security officers—like the ones who beat Jose Oliva. 

As the USA Today op-ed mentions, Jose Oliva is a Vietnam vet and an IJ client. In 2016, federal security guards traumatized Oliva in an unprovoked attack. The guards weren’t held accountable. The JPA compromise would allow victims of federal workers, like Jose Olivia, to seek recourse. 

So, although the JPA compromise “neither [eliminates] nor [codifies]” QI, it’s still a win for accountability. As IJ’s Anya Bidwell, Patrick Jaicomo, and Nick Sibella state in USA Today, the new reforms “would provide a powerful incentive for law enforcement agencies to respect people’s constitutional rights.” 

Read the Institute for Justice’s op-ed on QI here.