NAACP Legal Defense Fund Condemns QI

The NAACP Legal Defense Fund condemns qualified immunity (QI). In a new op-ed for USA Today, the NAACP Legal Fund addresses America’s policing problem. Chris Kemmitt and Kevin Jason wrote the piece. Kemmitt is the fund’s deputy director of litigation. Jason acts as assistant council. Both are legal experts and civil rights advocates. 

Specifically, their op-ed examines how courts “have long allowed” bad cops to “get away with discriminatory conduct and unnecessary violence.” Notably, through unjust rules such as qualified immunity. 

By granting QI to bad cops, the courts have created “serious barriers to accountability and fairness.” Furthermore, these barriers are a “unique detriment [to] communities of color.”

As the NAACP Legal Defense Fund explains, “the overwhelmingly white members [of] the federal judiciary have routinely discounted how communities of color have a palpable and understandable fear of police.”

That’s because doctrines such as QI signal to rogue cops that they can get away with violating people’s rights. Thus, these officers “are essentially permitted to intrude in the lives of Black individuals.” Unfortunately, this has fostered distrust in law enforcement. 

In addition, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund calls out the Supreme Court. In particular, for stating that lower courts must consider how cops “are often forced to make split-second judgments” under “uncertain” circumstances. However, many experts question this claim. In fact, they know this argument is a myth. 

Per Kemmitt and Jason, the Court’s “split-second judgments” argument “mischaracterizes nearly all police encounters with the public.” Worst still, this forces lower courts to “review an officer’s actions through [a] false frame.” As a result, courts “effectively defer to the officer’s judgment.” Meanwhile, the victims of police violence—disproportionately people of color—are often denied justice.  

Despite these challenges, the fight to end qualified immunity continues. For example, some states have already taken the initiative, passing effective legislation designed to protect the civil rights of their citizens. 

Read the entire NAACP Legal Defense Fund op-ed here.