According to a Vox poll, most Americans want to end qualified immunity (QI). Between June 9–11, Vox/Data for Progress conducted a survey. This survey focused on police reform. The data reveals that most Americans support “a more progressive approach” to police reform. This approach includes ending QI.
According to Vox, those surveyed back both the Breathe Act and the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act (JPA). These bills feature robust measures that target police misconduct.
The Breathe Act, writes Vox, offers a “more sweeping overhaul” than the JPA. Along with ending qualified immunity, this bill calls for the closure of federal agencies such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Per the Vox poll, the Breathe Act “has 51 percent likely voter backing.”
As for the JPA, the Vox poll indicates that support is even higher: 66 percent. And, as Vox reports, the JPA “[centers] on curbing qualified immunity protections for police officers.” Repealing the doctrine is the cornerstone of this police-reform package.
Yet despite the Vox poll showing that most Americans want to end QI, attempts to pass such legislation proves difficult.
While Democrats made the JPA “their starting point in negotiations,” Vox says, the bill “doesn’t have the votes to get through the upper chamber and neither would the Breathe Act.” Because of the Senate’s current 50-50 split, Democrats “will have to compromise with Republicans to advance a bill.”
Ending QI aims to hold individual officers accountable when they violate someone’s rights. However, Republicans aren’t comfortable with this measure. As Vox notes, Any bipartisan compromise on the JPA will feature “a more limited version of qualified immunity reforms.” For example, holding police departments accountable instead of individual officers. Still, as Vox notes, it remains “uncertain” whether this prospect will pass.
Despite the Senate’s uncertainty, one thing is clear. As the Vox poll shows, most Americans want to end qualified immunity.
Vox’s conclusion: “the survey shows that people would be open to a police and criminal justice reform option that’s broader than one the Senate might take up.” And that broad option most Americans favor includes ending qualified immunity.