House Republican revives BLM protest-era legislation to support qualified immunity
Top House Republican revives bill to protect police during 2020 BLM protests that failed under Democratic scrutiny: Jim Banks demands cops have ‘breathing space to make reasonable mistakes’
- Indiana Rep. Jim Banks reinstated his Qualified Immunity Act on Tuesday
- For now, qualified immunity relies on Supreme Court precedent
- It protects government employees, such as the police, from most civil lawsuits
Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana introduced a bill on Tuesday to codify qualified immunity for police officers into the US Constitution.
The former Republican Studies Committee chairman first brought the bill to the House floor in August 2020 in response to nationwide unrest this summer when Black Lives Matter protesters and other activists clashed with police.
The banks’ bill, the Qualified Immunity Act, would codify existing Supreme Court precedent that protects police officers from civil lawsuits “from the same criminals who put them behind bars,” the congressman said in a statement.
The qualified immunity statute gives police and other government officials “breathing room to make reasonable mistakes,” according to the text of its law.
The law failed to go through a vote in the Democrat-controlled Congress, led by then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Indiana Republican Assemblyman Jim Banks introduced a bill aimed at codifying qualified immunity into the US Constitution
His earlier attempt to introduce the legislation was blocked inside the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosis
Meanwhile, Democrats acted this year to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would have actually rolled back qualified immunity, among other reforms.
Banks’ bill has a far better chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of the 118th Congress — but it would face an uphill battle in the chamber of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.
“Indiana law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect our families and communities,” Banks said in a statement.
“Subjecting officers to frivolous, endless lawsuits from the same criminals who are putting them behind bars would be a miscarriage of justice and would bankrupt almost every police department in the country.”
The 2020 summer protests were in response to the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer.
The ensuing summer of protests was mostly peaceful, but was indelibly marked by images of destroyed public buildings, smashed shop windows and burning police cars in areas where tensions between police officers and protesters erupted.
The Minneapolis Third Police Precinct is set on fire Thursday, May 28, 2020, during a third night of protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody
San Francisco police seen during a protest on May 31, 2020. “Law enforcement officers risk their lives every day to protect our families and communities,” Banks said in a statement introducing his bill
Ending qualified immunity for police officers was one of the most controversial reforms called for by progressives – one that has been heavily campaigned against by right-wing groups and police unions.
Police reform activists argue that it gives law enforcement officers unfair protections that put them above the law.
However, advocates of qualified immunity say it is a necessary shield for government officials to do their jobs to their fullest potential.
“The doctrine of qualified immunity protects government officials performing official acts from being charged unless the officer violated an individual’s legal or constitutional rights,” said Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes.
“This is especially important for law enforcement officers who need this protection to perform discretionary tasks that are fundamental to law enforcement and public safety.”
The Supreme Court ruled in 1982 that government employees were entitled to qualified immunity and has since upheld the precedent in several cases.
The most recent occurred in October 2022, when the Supreme Court declined to hear a case questioning the qualified immunity defense of a Michigan police officer who shot and killed someone who was driving away in a car.
Bank legislation would codify the doctrine of qualified immunity into federal law, removing the burden of its existence from the Supreme Court.
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-11620561/Top-House-Republican-revives-BLM-protests-era-legislation-support-qualified-immunity.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 House Republican revives BLM protest-era legislation to support qualified immunity