April 15, 2019

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Courts Have Shown Too Much Deference to Unaccountable Government Officials.

Under the Supreme Court’s doctrine of qualified immunity, courts will hold government officials liable for violating the rights of their fellow citizens only if a prior court, adjudicating another case with virtually identical facts, has already held that such conduct was unconstitutional, effectively ensuring that nearly zero government officials ever face federal trial for their crimes.

In essence, police officers and other government officials, theoretically those members of society best equipped to know the current state of the law, are held to a significantly lower standard of legal conduct than ordinary citizens, for whom ignorance of the law is not a defense.

This toxic deference to government authority also extends far beyond the context of police misconduct. Courts regularly allow federal agencies to define the scope of their own authority and redefine what their own regulations mean on the fly, with little to no oversight. State and local governments are routinely permitted to pass laws protecting the business enterprises of well-established and politically connected individuals from upstart competitors under the barest and most transparent of pretenses, often with the courts themselves proffering potential justifications to help the government’s case.

This is a judicially created doctrine with no basis in the Constitution.

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