Each week, The Washington Post publishes a “Five Myths” section. Per the Post, this weekly column challenges “everything you think you know” about a specific topic. This week’s topic features five myths about qualified immunity (QI).
Nancy La Vigne and Marc Levin present these five myths about qualified immunity. La Vigne and Levin both work at the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice. Their mission is “to advance understanding of the criminal justice policy choices facing the nation and build consensus for solutions that enhance safety and justice for all.”
As La Vigne and Levin note, the provision to end QI in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act faces opposition in the Senate. This opposition comes from Republicans. For example, supporters argue that QI is “essential to officers’ abilities to do their jobs.” On the other hand, QI’s critics know the doctrine “shields police officers from personal liability.” In The Washington Post, Nancy La Vigne and Marc Levin say that “there are strong arguments for and against qualified immunity.” La Vigne and Levin voice their opinion in the “Five Myths” feature.
Ending qualified immunity would cause a flood of lawsuits. (“Even without qualified immunity, the volume of [lawsuits] is likely to remain low.”)
Local governments could go bankrupt without qualified immunity. (“Ending qualified immunity…would have little bearing on what municipal governments pay in damages from successful civil suits against officers.”)
Without qualified immunity, officers would quit the profession. (“Surveys of police officers reveal that the threat of litigation is not front of mind in the course of their duties.”)
In the ongoing debate over qualified immunity, myths versus facts, we know this much is true: It’s time to hold all bad cops accountable and end qualified immunity.
Read the entire Washington Post feature on “Five Myths About Qualified Immunity” here.