The Supreme Court quietly dealt a defeat to police reform activists on Monday, on a day that was otherwise one of jubilation for the radical left.
The nation’s highest court declined to hear a number of cases on qualified immunity, a legal protection for police and other government officials that has come under fire from left-wing activists.
Revoking qualified immunity high on Democrat priority list
The doctrine of qualified immunity provides a legal buffer for police and other public officials against frivolous lawsuits. Critics argue that it shields police from accountability, but supporters say it is an important right in a profession when life and death decisions often need to be made in seconds.
Activists have sought to revoke qualified immunity in recent days as nationwide unrest continues over the police killing of a black man, George Floyd.
Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s arch-conservative, dissented, saying that the principle “appears to stray from the statutory text.”
While calls from Black Lives Matter to “defund the police” have been shot down by most national Democrats, Democrats in the House have released a police reform bill targeting qualified immunity. It remains a partisan issue in Congress. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), who is leading Republican reform efforts, called it a “poison pill” for his party.
Dems blast decision
Some argue that qualified immunity, which was created by the Supreme Court, sometimes lets abusive cops off the hook thanks to its reliance on a scarcity of court precedent relating to police conduct.
Dems slammed the court’s declination.
“The Supreme Court’s failure to reconsider this flawed legal rule makes it all the more important for Congress to act,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and two other committee members.
The decision came the same day that justices Neil Gorsuch and John Roberts sided with the court’s four liberals in a landmark victory for LGBT rights, blindsiding many conservative supporters of President Trump. The court also refused to hear a challenge to sanctuary city policy from the Justice Department.
Trump unveiled an executive order on Tuesday to ban chokeholds except in cases when an officer’s life is threatened.