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SCOTUS Saturday: Qualified Immunity and the Second Amendment

The court appears, in the recent relistings, that it is willing to review the principle of qualified immunity, particularly in its application of what may be clear violations of Constitutional rights by police officers. Qualified immunity is the legal principle that police officers need to be able to make split-second decisions, and are not liable for violating “clearly established” Constitutional rights – where a prior case in an officer’s specific jurisdiction shows that the rights were violated. The problem is that Qualified Immunity has been used to excuse just about every improper use of force by police – and George Floyd’s murder may come under Qualified immunity.

For many of us, it is hard to understand there exists ANY sort of situation where a Constitutional right is NOT “clearly established,” and the idea was not one of legislation, but of judicial fiat – of legislating from the bench. The Supreme Court would, at worst, be divided 6-3 in overruling some sort of qualified immunity case, but they also tend to highly restrictive in application of such broad-based decisions.

We also may have a decision on several second amendment cases, most by states which are attempting to restrict ownership or possession. The relistings, like the qualified immunity cases, show the interest of the Court in coming to some sort of decision, but gun cases tend to fall along narrower lines (usually 5-4 in favor of fewer restrictions).

Keep an eye out Monday as well, where there is some likelihood that we will see one or more opinions issued – though it is near impossible to tell on what case or how many.

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