Solutions for Ending Qualified Immunity
Thanks to the work of our coalition members, 3 states and one city have ended qualified immunity, allowing people the opportunity to hold police officers, prison guards, and government officials accountable in state and local courts.
In September 2021, California passed SB 2, the Kenneth Ross Jr. Police Decertification Act of 2021. The bill is named in honor of a 25-year-old Black man fatally shot by police in 2018. State Senator Steven Bradford sponsored the bill. Per the Los Angeles Times, SB 2 “allows the lifetime decertification of law enforcement officers found to have engaged in misconduct.” Thus, SB 2 “establishes a fair and balanced way to hold officers who break the public trust accountable,” Senator Bradford says.
In April 2021, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the New Mexico Civil Rights Act, HB 4, into law. This law has cemented New Mexico as a national leader in allowing its people to sue government officials who violate their civil rights. This bill became a law because of the tremendous advocacy efforts of Americans for Prosperity–New Mexico, the ACLU of New Mexico, and many other organizations fighting for our rights every day.
In March 2021, the New York City Council made NYC the first city—and the largest jurisdiction—in the nation to limit qualified immunity for police. The NYC Council passed Int. 2220, which allows people whose rights were violated by New York City police officers to hold those officers accountable in local court.
In June 2020, Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed the Enhance Law Enforcement Integrity Act, SB 217, into law. This historic police accountability bill made Colorado the first state in the nation to end qualified immunity. Republican and Democratic legislators came together to write, amend, and pass this bill, making it a truly cross-partisan solution to police misconduct.
Ending Qualified Immunity Act of 2021
Rep. Ayanna Pressley reintroduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, H.R. 1470, in March 2021. This act, originally introduced in 2020 with tripartisan support, would end qualified immunity for public officials. This act was introduced alongside S. 492, its Senate counterpart. H.R. 1470 is the most comprehensive bill at the federal level to end qualified immunity for public officials who violate the Constitutional rights of people in our country.
George Floyd Justice in Policing Act
The George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, H.R. 1280, passed the U.S. House of Representatives in March 2021. This is the second consecutive year that the House has voted to pass this bill. Alongside other key police reforms, this act would end qualified immunity for police officers. If it becomes law, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act would allow people across the country to sue police officers for violating their rights in federal court.
The BREATHE Act, written by the Movement for Black Lives, is a legislative solution that takes a systemic approach to addressing police reform. This act would redirect resources, invest in community safety, build equitable communities, and implement measures for government accountability. An end to qualified immunity is among these accountability measures. Under the BREATHE Act, people across the country would be able to sue government officials for violating their rights in federal court.
States and cities across the country are taking up legislation to end qualified immunity. For weekly updates, please sign up for our email list.