Pressley, Markey Reintroduce Legislation to Fully End Qualified Immunity

March 1, 2021
Press Release
Unjust Doctrine Shields Police Officers from Accountability for Misconduct and Criminal Behavior

Bill Text (PDF) | One-Pager (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) today reintroduced the Ending Qualified Immunity Act to eliminate the unjust and court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity and restore Americans' ability to obtain relief when state and local officials, including police officers, violate their legal and constitutionally secured rights.

Joining the lawmakers in re-introducing the legislation are Reps. Joyce Beatty, Adriano Espaillat, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Alma S. Adams, Jesús G. "Chuy" García, Ro Khanna, Chellie Pingree, Earl Blumenauer, Gregory W. Meeks, Andy Levin, Rashida Tlaib, Mark Takano, Bobby L. Rush, Ann Kirkpatrick, Carolyn B. Maloney, Jan Schakowsky, Ritchie Torres, Gregory Meeks, Diana DeGette, Hank Johnson, Mondaire Jones, Alcee L. Hastings, Katherine Clark, Nydia M. Velazquez, Jimmy Gomez, Barbara Lee, Adam Smith, James P. McGovern, Bonnie Watson Coleman, Marcy Kaptur, Nikema Williams, Suzan DelBene, Seth Moulton, Cori Bush, and Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt).

“We must fully end the doctrine of qualified immunity which for too long has shielded law enforcement from accountability and denied recourse for the countless families robbed of their loved ones,” said Congresswoman Pressley. “There can be no justice without healing and accountability, and there can be no true accountability with qualified immunity. We must act with urgency. We must be bold and unapologetic in our pursuit of policy that increases police accountability and addresses the crisis of police brutality plaguing Black and brown communities.”

“It’s cases like Daniel Prude, Elijah McClain, and countless others that make clear our justice system is failing to hold accountable law enforcement officers who engage in police brutality and kill Black and Brown Americans,” said Senator Markey. “It’s time we end the outdated and judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity and start delivering accountability for the officers who abuse their positions of trust and responsibility in our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. There will not be true racial justice until we end qualified immunity.”

The bill is endorsed by Center for Disability Rights, The Leadership Conference, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Center for Popular Democracy, Civil Rights Corp, URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity, National Immigration Project (NIPNLG), Muslim Advocates, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA), Innocence Project, Campaign To End Qualified Immunity, Louisiana Advocates for Immigrants in Detention, DC Democratic Caucus For Returning Citizens, National Black Justice Coalition, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, American Atheists, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Women's Community Justice Association, Long Island Social Justice Action Network, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, Amnesty International USA, Open Society Policy Center, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Transformations CDC, American Sustainable Business Council, Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Constitutional Accountability Center, Japanese American Citizens League, Lawyers for Good Government (L4GG), Project On Government Oversight, Autistic Self Advocacy Network, Earthjustice, Players Coalition, Demand Justice, MomsRising, Public Justice, Baltimore-Washington Conference of The United Methodist Church, Alabama Justice Initiative, Human Rights Watch, Drug Policy Alliance, Our Revolution, Center for Constitutional Rights, National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC), American Civil Liberties Union, Sierra Club, National Partnership for Women and Families, Center for Constitutional Rights, Equal Justice Society, Defending Rights and Dissent, Mainers for Accountable Leadership, Rights & Democracy NH, Rights & Democracy VT, DemCast USA, #NoRA, Jamaica Plain Progressives, Peace Action, American Family Voices, The Institute for Justice, Common Defense, Border Network for Human Rights, Indivisible Georgia Coalition, Hispanic Federation, National Equality Action Team, We Testify, NARAL Pro-Choice America, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Indivisible San Francisco, Demand Progress, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Protect Democracy, Giffords, Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund (DREDF), The Institute for Justice. 

The full text of the bill can be found here and a one-pager can be found here.

The Ending Qualified Immunity Act was originally introduced in June 2020 by Congresswoman Pressley and Congressman Justin Amash (L-MI) following the murder of George Floyd at the hands of law enforcement.

In August, Congresswoman Pressley and Boston City Councilor Ricardo Arroyo authored an op-ed in the Boston Globe in which they called on state lawmakers to end the unjust court-invented doctrine of qualified immunity.

 

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