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Egret and crab

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Qualified impunity

There is a great article at Politico, Qualified immunity is burning a hole in the constitution. The police can run roughshod on American citizens and it appears we have no redress. Definitely read the article.

The Supreme Court created qualified immunity out of thin air in 1967, just six years after the Court first recognized that people could sue police officers and other government officials for violating their constitutional rights. In that first qualified immunity case, Pierson v. Ray, the Court held that the officers were entitled to a “good faith” immunity in civil rights cases. Chief Justice Earl Warren, writing for the majority, explained that this immunity from suit was necessary because, otherwise, officers could be held liable when they mistakenly believed the law authorized an arrest. As Chief Justice Warren explained, “A policeman’s lot is not so unhappy that he must choose between being charged with dereliction of duty if he does not arrest when he has probable cause and being mulcted in damages if he does.”
Although a “good faith” defense was the impetus for qualified immunity, today, officers are entitled to qualified immunity even if they act in bad faith, so long as there is no prior court decision with nearly identical facts. For more than five decades, the Supreme Court has repeatedly strengthened qualified immunity’s protections, describing each additional layer of defense in increasingly terrified tones as necessary to protect officers from the unyielding power of civil rights lawsuits.

And on the same subject. The police can now arrest you for satirizing them. And there ain't nothing you can do about it. A man in Ohio made fun of some cops on Facebook. So they threw him in jail for four days.

The Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed in a ruling in April that "the officers reasonably believed they were acting within the law" even if his Facebook page was obviously a parody. That's because there was no court precedent saying it's a violation of the Constitution to be arrested in retaliation for satirical remarks when the officers have probable cause, the court said.

What the hell has happened to our country?

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More. Ho on Texas officials who jail their critics.

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