A former Republican congressman known for his public spats with former president Donald J. Trump has expressed his support for a bill introduced by two progressive Democrats that would end qualified immunity for law enforcement officers.
“End qualified immunity. Thanks to [Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-07)] and [Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA)] for reintroducing our bill in this Congress,” Justin Amash said on Twitter.
End qualified immunity.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 1, 2021
Amash was a Republican member of congress who switched his party affiliation to Independent before announcing his retirement in 2020. He was known for his public criticism of Trump.
Qualified immunity is a doctrine that protects law enforcement officers from civil liability if, in the act of policing, they use force against a suspect as long as they believed their actions to be lawful and were acting in good faith when using the force.
Separately, the U.S. House will vote later this week on H.R. 1280, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would significantly reform qualified immunity. The bill is named for Floyd, who died after an interaction with police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, sparking nationwide riots last summer.
But Pressley and Markey aren’t satisfied with the reforms in the bill, and are introducing a standalone version to end qualified immunity. Amash introduced a similar amendment to a bill with Pressley last year, that would have ended the doctrine. That amendment was not passed.
Qualified immunity “for too long has shielded law enforcement from accountability and denied recourse for the countless families robbed of their loved ones,” Pressley told The Intercept. She noted her belief that the concept is rooted in “systemic racism,” and said, “[t]here can be no justice without healing and accountability, and there can be no true accountability with qualified immunity.”
“It’s time we end the outdated and judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity and start delivering accountability for the officers who abuse their positions of trust and responsibility in our communities,” Markey reportedly said. “There will not be true racial justice until we end qualified immunity.”
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