The Corner

Law & the Courts

The Supreme Court Made Up This Doctrine and Should Un-Make It

Sometimes the Supreme Court just makes the law up, and one such instance is its doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which shields police and other public officials from liability when they are sued under federal statute (so-called Section 1983 cases). The law Congress wrote says nothing at all about giving the defendant officials any particular defense, but the Court has crafted this strange, rootless, shifting doctrine. Consequently, it’s very rare for officials to be held responsible, even in the most egregious cases.

I write about qualified immunity and one of those egregious cases that’s on appeal to the Court in my new Forbes article.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.


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