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Supreme Court Won't Consider Police Immunity

Justices decline to hear related cases
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 15, 2020 12:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Supreme Court is for now declining to get involved in an ongoing debate by citizens and in Congress over policing, rejecting cases Monday that would have allowed the justices to revisit when police can be held financially responsible for wrongdoing, per the AP. With protests over racism and police brutality continuing nationwide, the justices turned away more than half a dozen cases involving the legal doctrine known as qualified immunity, which the high court created more than 50 years ago. It shields officials, including police, from lawsuits for money as a result of things they do in the course of their job. As is usual, the court didn't comment in turning away the cases, but Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a 6-page dissent saying he would have agreed to hear one of the cases.

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“I have previously expressed my doubts about our qualified immunity jurisprudence,” he wrote, explaining he believes the court's "qualified immunity doctrine appears to stray from the statutory text." As a result of qualified immunity, even when a court finds that an official or officer has violated someone’s constitutional rights, they can still be protected from civil lawsuits seeking money. The Supreme Court has said that qualified immunity protects officials as long as their actions don’t violate clearly established law or constitutional rights which they should have known about. The push for the court to reexamine qualified immunity has come both from the left and right, including Thomas, a conservative, and Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a liberal.

(Read more US Supreme Court stories.)

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