Qualified immunity is a rule that protects police and other government officials from being sued for damages if they are accused of breaking someone’s constitutional rights. It’s meant to help them do their jobs without worrying about getting sued, as long as they’re acting in good faith and following the rules.
To use qualified immunity as a defense, an official must show that they didn’t break a law that was already clearly established and that a reasonable person in their position would have known that what they were doing was wrong.
But this is incredibly difficult to achieve, as each instance is treated so specifically that gross acts of violence and negligence oftentimes happen without consequence.
Qualified immunity provides too much protection for government officials and that it can make it difficult for individuals to hold officials accountable for abuses of power or violations of rights.
Here’s how you can work to ensure that government officials are held accountable for abuses of power or violations of rights.
Support efforts to reform or eliminate qualified immunity. There have been calls by some lawmakers and advocates to reform or eliminate qualified immunity, and individuals can support these efforts by contacting their representatives and expressing their views on the issue.
Support organizations that are working to hold officials accountable. There are a number of organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, that work to hold government officials accountable for abuses of power or violations of rights. Individuals can support these organizations through donations or by volunteering their time and skills.
Advocate for greater transparency and accountability in government. This can involve supporting efforts to make government records and proceedings more open and accessible, as well as advocating for stronger oversight and accountability mechanisms.