Created by the Supreme Court in 1967, the legal doctrine of qualified immunity shields government officials from being sued even if they violate someone’s constitutional rights, as long as they are not violating what the Court calls "clearly established law."

Proponents of qualified immunity argue that it is necessary for police officers to perform their job without the fear of being sued. Critics say that qualified immunity offers too much protection for the police and lessens their accountability.

Two experts on qualified immunity, UCLA Law Professor Joanna Schwartz and Fairfax County Police Auditor Richard Schott, discuss its pros and cons in the fourth episode of our POLICYbrief series on criminal justice.


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As always, the Federalist Society takes no particular legal or public policy positions. All opinions expressed are those of the speakers.

Learn more about Joanna C. Schwartz:
Follow Joanna on Twitter: @JCSchwartzProf

Learn more about Richard G. Schott:


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Related Links & Differing Views:

Notre Dame Law Review: “The Case Against Qualified Immunity”

LEB: “Qualified Immunity: How It Protects Law Enforcement Officers”

The Yale Law Journal: “How Qualified Immunity Fails”

Notre Dame Law Review: “A Qualified Defense of Qualified Immunity”

New York University Law Review: “Police Indemnification”

Amicus Brief: “Brief for Former Police Chiefs in Support of Petitioners”