Stephen Levin calls on states to end qualified immunity (QI) in a new USA Today op-ed. Levin, the former New York City Council member who helped limit QI in the Big Apple, believes New York and other states must “step up to protect their residents” by striking down the unjust rule.
“After the murder of George Floyd,” Stephen Levin writes, “the protest movement of 2020 forced many of us to take a long look in the mirror and ask, as Americans, are we doing everything we can to live up to our foundational principles and ideals?”
To answer this critical question, Levin began exploring ways to increase public safety.
“I knew from research, history and common sense that police accountability actually enhances public safety,” Stephen Levin notes, “by cultivating police-community relationships and bolstering confidence in law enforcement and the rule of law.”
However, there exists a “serious impediment” to establishing police accountability: the doctrine of qualified immunity.
Stephen Levin went to work, crafting a bill—which the New York City Council passed—limiting QI for bad cops who violated an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“Passing this bill sent a powerful message,” Levin says in USA Today. “Police who abuse their authority will no longer be able to walk into the courtroom and say, ‘The plaintiff has no right to bring me here because I am immune.’ On the contrary, the victim finally has the opportunity to have their day in court and seek the justice they deserve.”
Now that New York City has taken this crucial step, Stephen Levin says it’s time for New York and other states to follow suit. Levin wholeheartedly supports S 1991, the bill that will end QI in the Empire State. Bolstering accountability by removing qualified immunity, in New York and nationwide, he remarks, will protect “the rights that have built and sustained our democracy.”
Read the entire Stephen Levin op-ed here.