It’s better than the Democrats’ proposal, but it goes too far on neck restraints and not far enough on no-knock warrants, and it fails to address qualified-immunity doctrine
George Floyd’s tragic death at the knee of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has sent shockwaves through an America understandably outraged and traumatized by the unnecessarily fatal episode. Public unrest has spurred political action. In Washington, both Democrats and Republicans have pulled together fast-track legislation aimed at police reform — the Justice in Policing Act and the JUSTICE Act (Just and Unifying Solutions To Invigorate Communities Everywhere Act), respectively.
The lead sponsor of the Republican bill, Senator Tim Scott (S.C.), is one of only two African-American men in the upper chamber (and the only black Republican). He’s done an admirable job on a short timeframe. His bill is a better approach overall than the Democratic alternative, a well-intentioned effort that nevertheless overreaches in some areas, with very real public-safety costs in the balance. The Republican bill is generally more modest — seeking data and transparency when solutions aren’t clear — but is still a significant effort aimed at addressing more clearly defined problems.
Still, the GOP bill could be improved. There are some ways in which the bill probably does not go far enough, and others in which it may go too far. And it omits an important area of focus, included in the Democrats’ bill, that Republicans should address.
James R. Copland is a senior fellow and director of legal policy at the Manhattan Institute. He is the author of “The Unelected: How an Unaccountable Elite is Governing America,” forthcoming in September. Follow him on Twitter here.
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