Cato: A Shocking Dereliction of Duty

Jay Schweikert writing at The Cato Institute (

This morning, the Supreme Court denied all of the major cert petitions raising the question of whether qualified immunity should be reconsidered. This is, to put it bluntly, a shocking dereliction of duty. As Cato has argued for years, qualified immunity is an atextual, ahistorical judicial invention, which shields public officials from liability, even when they break the law. The doctrine not only denies justice to victims whose rights have been violated, but also exacerbates our crisis of confidence in law enforcement. By holding police officers to a far lower standard of accountability than ordinary citizens, qualified immunity deprives the entire law enforcement community of the public trust and credibility they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.

And on the Cato Daily Podcast, interviewed by Caleb Brown:

Jay Schweikert, it appears that the Supreme Court has turned down all currently outstanding petitions dealing with Qualified Immunity. As you said before we started recording, you are still a bit tilted, but you also in a public statement sent out by the Cato Institute you said this was ‘a shocking dereliction of duty’.

Yes, I think that’s exactly right. This issue is a mess that the Supreme Court created – needlessly – by rewriting our primary Federal Civil Rights Statute in a way that has blunted both the deterrent and remedial effects of that statute, and has contributed – in a significant way – to our present crisis of confidence in law enforcement. These cases were perfectly positioned for the court to begin reconsidering and pulling back this doctrine and in my view, frankly, there was no excuse for the court not to take up at least one of these cases.

Cowardly inaction from the Extreme Court.

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