FACTS

    After recent recurring events that many refer to as “police brutality,” the United States Supreme Court may decide to hear nine different cases involving a legal doctrine known as “qualified immunity.” This doctrine “shields government officials from being sued for discretionary actions performed within their official capacity, unless their actions violated ‘clearly established’ federal law or constitutional rights.” Each of the nine cases is challenging that concept and calling for reform.

    LEFT & RIGHT

    Two columnists for USA TODAY wrote that currently, the family of George Floyd would have no grounds for their case against the officers involved in the situation unless they could prove that the courts had previously made a decision determining that “precisely the same conduct under the same circumstances is illegal or unconstitutional.” They added that this is nearly impossible and, because of it, officers regularly get away with illegal actions. The dangers of courts’ increasing propensity towards qualified immunity for police officers are one of the few things that both liberal Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and conservative Justice Clarence Thomas agree on. The National Review said that police unions are one of the issues that need to be addressed amid current events, writing that “the issue of rogue police officers who routinely violate constitutional rights and their superiors and unions who protect them is no longer a Right-versus-Left issue.”

    LEFT

    The Left believes that in addition to police reform, politicians need to implement reform in many areas affecting low-income communities, including housing and healthcare.

    Instead of criminalizing homelessness, we need publicly financed supportive housing; instead of gang units, we need community-based anti-violence programs, trauma services, and jobs for young people; instead of school police we need more counselors, after-school programs, and restorative justice programs.”

    Alex S Vitale – The Guardian

    RIGHT

    While the Right does believe that qualified immunity is in need of reform, they have pointed out the dangers of not offering police officers protection from frivolous lawsuits and in cases where they “make reasonable but mistaken judgments.” Another article stated that rather than the government having the answers, “the solution is going to come individually and over time with you and me committed to loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

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