Given the long and sinister history of public officials violating the rights of people of color, Congress passed the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1871, giving all Americans the right to sue public officials who violate our civil rights. However, the Supreme Court has created a doctrine known as “qualified immunity” that leads to the dismissal of most of these civil rights lawsuits.
This immunity is not part of any law passed by Congress nor is it mentioned in the Constitution. It was invented by the Supreme Court, and its application has expanded during John Roberts’ tenure as Chief Justice.
Recent rulings on qualified immunity have encountered intense criticism.
These cases are often harrowing and heart breaking. Later this year, the Supreme Court will decide whether to consider a case that would give it a chance to end qualified immunity.
Qualified immunity has attracted concern from both the left and right. In recent years, groups ranging from the ACLU and NAACP Legal Defense Fund to the Cato Institute and Americans for Prosperity have joined forces to mutually urge the Supreme Court to reconsider the doctrine.
But the issue has not yet gained enough public notice, and the Court needs to feel the pressure to change. Join us in adding your voice.