Conservatives—& anyone who cares about limited government—should be first in line to reform qualified immunity. But there are so many misconceptions about how it works.

This @TomCottonAR op-ed on the subject is replete with misinformation. A thread.…
Misconception #1: Qualified immunity is "essential to effective policing."

QI allows gov't officials to violate your rights with little fear of liability in civil court. To say it's essential is to say that cops need to be able to violate your rights to do their jobs. /2
Misconception #2: Qualified immunity protects good cops & punishes bad ones.

I've covered more cases than I can count of bad cops getting QI: ones who shot kids, set people on fire, committed theft, & beat people up. I outlined a bunch for @Newsweek. /3…
I think about this case a lot: Over 24 cops got qualified immunity after throwing explosives into an innocent, 78-year-old man's home. They had the wrong house.

He couldn't sue. How on earth could any fan of *limited government* call that "reasonable"? /4…
Misconception #3: Reforming qualified immunity would bankrupt officers.

From 2006-11, cops paid a whopping 0.02% of judgments against them because cities indemnify their employees. If an officer pays anything, it's a fraction of the settlement. Usually it's nothing at all. /5
Misconception #4: Those opposed to qualified immunity are targeting cops.

@TomCottonAR is right that other government officials are protected by certain immunities. And most every qualified-immunity reformer would tell you that's also a serious problem. /6
Here's one example: I wrote about some corrupt university administration officials who got qualified immunity after running right over a student's free speech rights. It drew the ire of Clarence Thomas, who is no left-winger. /7…
Misconception #5: Qualified immunity only protects the "plainly incompetent." Anyone who beats up a suspect is liable!

I'm surprised this made it past an editor, because it shows a complete lack of familiarity with the case law. Examples in the next tweet. /8
QI for 4 cops who beat a man to a pulp after pulling him over for broken tail lights:…

QI for cop who kneed subdued suspect in the eye 20 to 30 times:…

QI for cops who unleashed K9 on surrendered man:… /9
Misconception #6: Qualified immunity reform isn't important bc bad cops are always prosecuted.

This is probably the most nefarious nugget in the piece. It is **exceptionally** rare for a cop to be prosecuted. That leaves civil court, which is often blocked off, thanks to QI. /10
Cotton goes on to cite Chauvin as proof the system is working as it should. That was one very high-profile exception to the rule.

Cops are almost never prosecuted & rarely face meaningful departmental discipline. I outlined some of that data here. /11…
Misconception #7: Qualified immunity is another term for "defund the police."

I can't believe I actually have to say this, but qualified immunity has absolutely nothing to do with "defunding the police." It's a popular buzzphrase though, & it helps stoke anxiety. /12
Qualified immunity emboldens the worst state actors. It makes a mockery of good cops. It tramples over the little guy.

Conservatives say they want to rein in abusive gov't. Gov't includes police. If @TomCottonAR understood QI, I have confidence he'd want to reform it. /end

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More from @billybinion

26 Oct
This is the stuff of nightmares. Raquel Esquivel spent 11 years in prison on a drug charge. She was released amid COVID & got pregnant.

Now, she's been separated from her baby & sent back to prison—because of a clerical error.

My latest @reason:…
Esquivel should be the poster child for prison reform. She got 15 years for a drug offense. She had an exemplary record on home confinement.

...And she was taken back to prison because the halfway house forgot to log one of her check-in calls. Absurd.…
Thousands of prisoners were put on home confinement during COVID. Esquivel's story speaks to the success of that program.

It also speaks to the utter incompetence of our prison bureaucracy. The state forgot to log a phone call. She pays with her freedom.…
Read 6 tweets
18 Oct
Decades ago, the Supreme Court legislated qualified immunity into existence. And today, they dealt a major blow to anyone who was hoping for reform.

I wrote about why that matters. 🧵…
Qualified immunity allows state actors to violate your rights if the *exact* way in which they do so has not been ruled unconstitutional in a prior court ruling.

It's shielded cops who shot kids, stole huge sums of $$, & destroyed property. List goes on.…
The idea behind qualified immunity is that no reasonable cop can be expected to know when they cross a constitutional line, unless there's an identical precedent outlining that misbehavior.

How on earth can we expect cops to know stealing is wrong???…
Read 9 tweets
13 Oct
A warden allegedly raped his cousin-in-law multiple times on prison grounds. A corrupt prosecutor worked to cover it up.

And the victim can't do anything about it. Here's a story on the type of gov't abuse that so often goes unnoticed.

My latest @reason:…
Priscilla Lefebure says she was raped multiple times by Barrett Boeker, an assistant warden at Louisiana State Penitentiary. Boeker was arrested after a medical exam corroborated an assault.

But he was mysteriously never indicted.…
Here's where it gets even more infuriating, if that were possible.

The local DA, Samuel D'Aquilla, allegedly refused to examine her rape kit. He refused to meet her to discuss the case. And he refused to call any witnesses who could corroborate her story.…
Read 5 tweets
12 Oct
Matthew Shepard's death was tragic. It's also very unlikely that his murder had anything to do with the fact that he was part of the LGBTQ community.

Telling the correct version of history is vital, even when it might be inconvenient for your cause. A thread.
Shepard died a gruesome death: tied to a fence & set on fire. A narrative quickly formed that he had been targeted because he was gay.

But later reporting would suggest that at least 1 of his murderers also slept with men, & that they actually had beef with Shepard over drugs. ImageImage
Shepard's death in 1998 created a kind of perfect storm. Wyoming, where he lived, had just failed to pass a hate crime law. The media immediately drew that connection.

And they've run with it ever since. Please read this by @ENBrown… ImageImage
Read 7 tweets
11 Oct
An agent of the state killed an innocent man while responding to a prank call in Wichita. Andrew Finch opened his door & in 10 seconds he'd been shot dead by a sniper. No one rendered medical aid for 30 minutes.

The city can't be sued.

My latest @reason:…
The Wichita police sergeant who organized the response violated department policy & failed to issue any warnings prior to the fatal shot.

He got qualified immunity.…
The most disturbing part of the court's decision: The city can't be sued bc there is no pattern of "jury verdicts" against the Wichita Police Dept.

In other words, because the gov't fights to shield themselves from accountability, you're out of luck.…
Read 5 tweets
8 Sep
Karen Garner was 73 years old when police threw her to the ground, broke her arm, and dislocated her shoulder while arresting her for stealing $13.88 from Wal-Mart.

The city will pay her $3 million. Let's talk about accountability.

My latest @reason:…
First things first: Let us acknowledge how absolutely absurd it is that a 73-year-old—who has dementia—needed to be violently arrested & assaulted because she stole $13.88 worth of merchandise.

It's not about safety.…
Former Officer Austin Hopp repeatedly pushed Garner's contorted left arm—which was handcuffed—above her head as she screamed.

He then joked about it with his colleagues, which @cjciaramella wrote about here. "I love it," he said.

Do you feel safer?…
Read 5 tweets

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