USA Today looks at the Supreme Court and qualified immunity (QI). In a new op-ed, USA Today’s Editorial Board examines some recent QI rulings. Handed down by the Supreme Court, these rulings could signal “a new era of accountability.” Perhaps even a new era of QI reform.
“For decades, the Supreme Court has shielded police and prison guards from accountability,” notes USA Today. “Even when they violate people’s rights in the most outrageous ways.”
However, the Supreme Court has recently signaled some shifts. In fact, the Supreme Court “may finally have had enough of…qualified immunity.”
This isn’t the first time USA Today has critiqued QI. On the contrary, the publication’s Editorial Board officially came out against the doctrine back in July. (Since then, USA Today has published other pieces slamming qualified immunity. You can read them here, here, and here.)
So, how has the Court hinted at its changing attitude toward QI? Here’s one example from USA Today’s op-ed.
Last year, Texas prisoner Trent Taylor sued the corrections officers who violated his civil rights. Per the suit, these bad guards held Taylor for nearly a week in a filthy cell. Shockingly, the cell was covered in “massive amounts” of excrement.
At first, the 5th Circuit Court denied Taylor justice. They granted the guards qualified immunity. Nevertheless, Trent Taylor persisted. He appealed. Taylor took his case all the way to the nation’s highest court. The Court agreed with Taylor. The bad guards did, in fact, violate his rights.
As a result, the Court overturned the lower court’s decision. “Any reasonable officer should have realized that Taylor’s conditions of confinement offended the Constitution,” the Court ruled.
“The reversal,” USA Today’s Editorial Board writes, “demonstrates that the justices may finally be waking up to how damaging their doctrine has become.”
Read the entire op-ed on the Supreme Court and QI here.