If Qualified Immunity Is Bad Policy, Can It Be Fixed? (Podcast)

April 29, 2021, 10:30 PM

In the wake of Derek Chauvin’s conviction in the murder of George Floyd, lawmakers in both parties said they were “cautiously optimistic” that the trial could provide new momentum to overcome the political hurdles that have stymied efforts at policing reform.

In a speech before a joint session of Congress on Wednesday, President Joe Biden formally called on lawmakers to resurrect the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which among other things, would end the legal practice of granting qualified immunity to police officers.

“My fellow Americans, we have to come together to rebuild trust between law enforcement and the people they serve to root out systemic racism in our criminal justice system and to enact police reform in George Floyd’s name that passed the House already,” said Biden. “I know Republicans have their own ideas and are engaged in very productive discussions with Democrats in the Senate. We need to work together to find a consensus, but let’s get it done next month.”

Qualified immunity was considered a relatively obscure legal doctrine known only to civil-rights lawyers and legal scholars, but after the death of George Floyd, it has now become a common topic in the media, cities, and state legislatures across the country.

In this episode of the UnCommon Law Podcast, we speak with Alexander Reinert, a professor of law at the Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University, Clark Neily, a senior vice president for criminal justice at the Cato Institute, and Anya Bidwell, an attorney with the nonprofit Institute for Justice.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Adam Allington in Washington at aallington@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Josh Block at jBlock@bloombergindustry.com; Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com

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