Today, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) and a coalition of 28 organizations sent a letter to U.S. Senators Booker, Scott and Graham, and Representatives Bass and Clyburn regarding their efforts to find common ground on policies to advance police accountability for misconduct and improve transparency in the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act. The letter specifically expressed concerns about the state of negotiations on qualified immunity, and empowering victims of police misconduct to hold law enforcement accountable through civil lawsuits.
Some policymakers are using the negotiations as an opportunity to advance proposals that codify qualified immunity in the bill and a small number of influential law enforcement groups are advancing proposals to insulate officers from accountability when they violate the law. At least one Senator involved in the negotiations has suggested that only law enforcement agencies should be held liable—not officers—for the acts of their officers, and only in cases involving death and the most serious bodily injury, with no recourse for the victims of other forms of brutality; violations of First Amendment rights, including religious liberties; intrusions on privacy and dignity; sexual abuse; and other unconstitutional conduct by law enforcement that does not meet these narrow parameters. These ideas essentially threaten to close the courthouse doors for victims of many forms of police abuse, and fail to provide meaningful, reasonable remedies.
In the letter, the coalition calls on Congress to correct the course of negotiations to ensure that any proposal to expand employer liability should not be limited to cases of serious bodily injury; any federal legislation on policing must have meaningful accountability reforms, including eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement officers.
Read the full letter here.
Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization. LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Follow LDF on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.