For a while in 2020, "there was some hope that the Supreme Court might walk back its 50-year jurisprudence on qualified immunity, the doctrine that makes it nearly impossible to recover damages when police violate the Constitution," The Washington Post's Radley Balko noted last week. There was political momentum on the issue after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police — I wrote about this at the time — and, as Balko recalls, "the court ruled last term in favor for the plaintiffs in two cases involving horrific abuse by prison guards."
Last month, however, SCOTUS unanimously overturned two appeals court decisions, granting qualified immunity to officers in use-of-force cases in Oklahoma and California. And on Monday, the court declined to hear Frasier v. Evans, a case in which police officers in Denver violated the First Amendment rights of a man, Levi Frasier, who was recording their conduct, including "officers hitting [a] suspect in the face and knocking a pregnant woman onto the ground."
Here's a summary of key facts of the case from Cato Institute attorney Jay Schweikert:
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If that seems like unlawful conduct for which law enforcement officers, of all people, should be held to account, well, welcome to frustration about qualified immunity — and about the Supreme Court's apparent refusal to correct this problem of the court system's own making.
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