Should State Governments End Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement?
The recent death of Tyre Nichols has again sparked discussions over criminal justice reform. One topic being debated is qualified immunity, which protects government officials from civil lawsuits while working unless they violate clearly established constitutional rights of the plaintiff.
Those who argue that state governments should end qualified immunity argue that it gives law enforcement a shield from prosecution for misconduct and violence. They contend that because it provides too much of a barrier for citizens to bring lawsuits, rogue police officers know that they have greater leeway to commit misconduct. They argue that this in turn leads to a less safe society where there is less trust in law enforcement. Finally, they argue that the police have a responsibility to act with the utmost caution, and that ending qualified immunity will encourage this behavior.
Those who argue that state governments should not end qualified immunity argue that it does not give individual officials a complete shield from prosecution for misconduct. They argue that localities can fire police officers and bring criminal charges against them if needed. Additionally, this side argues that individuals whose constitutional rights are violated can sue the city or police department as a whole for any financial damages. Finally, they claim that the police often are in situations where they must make split-second decisions. They say that ending qualified immunity would make officials feel they need to act with too extreme of caution, which could place them in greater danger.
So, what do you think? Should State Governments End Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement? Students can answer Yes, they should; No, they should not; or a nuanced answer in-between! Be sure to submit your answers by February 15th to have them be considered for this week’s contest.
Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:
- Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner
- Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers
- Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors
- They address counterarguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner
- They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly
JOIN THE DEBATE BELOW FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A $1,000 CASH SCHOLARSHIP!
For this question, BRI will be giving away two $25 gift cards, one to each person providing the best defense of each side of the debate. Both students will also win BRI swag. Each student winner will also be entered for a chance to win a grand prize of a $1,000 cash scholarship. Additionally, the referring teachers for both students will each win a $25 gift card and BRI swag.
This question will run from 2/2/23 to 2/15/23, so be sure to submit your answers in time to be considered for our prizes!