The USA Today Editorial Board comes out against qualified immunity (QI). On July 8, the USA Today Editorial Board published a piece criticizing the court-created rule. The piece is part of a series, a collaboration between USA Today and Stand Together. The series examines qualified immunity.
The Board’s view: “The absurdity of qualified immunity is obvious in the hair-splitting distinctions the courts make to give officers a free pass.”
USA Today is the latest high-profile publication to denounce the doctrine. For instance, back in May, the New York Times Editorial Board came out against QI. This announcement coincided with the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s murder. Furthermore, Reuters released an acclaimed report exposing the dangers of the unjust rule. In fact, Reuters’ report recently won the Pulitzer Prize.
In their editorial, the Board examines various cases in which QI denied justice to victims of police violence. For example, Amy Corbitt’s case. In 2014, a bad cop seriously injured Corbitt’s 10-year-old son. Corbitt sued for excessive force. However, as USA Today notes, Amy Corbitt “ran into a hurdle so high that it has stopped thousands of people from holding police accountable for unconstitutional acts.”
That hurdle was qualified immunity.
An appeals panel granted the bad cop QI. As a result, the panel threw out Amy Corbitt’s case. They did so because she “failed to find a prior case with the same facts where a court ruled an officer violated the law by accidentally shooting a bystander.” (Above the Law, Ben Cohen’s new book on QI, features Amy Corbitt’s story.)
The USA Today Editorial Board calls on Congress to “fix this travesty.” The Board believes the provision to end QI must remain in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. “If police are going to keep – or regain – the public support they need to enforce the law,” the editorial concludes, “they must no longer be given a free pass when they violate citizens’ civil rights.”