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Testimony Before the House Committee on the Judiciary

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testimony

Testimony Before the House Committee on the Judiciary

March 31, 2022
Policing & Public SafetyAll

Rafael Mangual testified before the House Committee on the Judiciary in a hearing entitled "Examining Civil Rights Litigation Reform, Part 1: Qualified Immunity."

Remarks:

I’d like to thank the subcommittee for the invitation to testify. It is always an honor and a privilege to address members of Congress on important policy issues, such as the one being discussed today.

I’d like to begin by noting that I am not entirely against the idea of reform when it comes to qualified immunity—which I think is best understood as a defense against ex post facto liability. At the end of my remarks, I will offer what I think is a middle ground reform that falls between outright abolition and the status quo.

While reform is worth considering, some skepticism of the dominant narrative that has influenced the discourse about qualified immunity is in order. That narrative has focused on the role the defense has played in police litigation—particularly suits related to uses-of-force—and it posits that qualified immunity essentially functions as an unpierceable shield against liability for police officers, such that officers internalize a sense of impunity that in turn leads them to misbehave in ways they otherwise wouldn’t if they had more financial skin in the game. As such, the abolition of qualified immunity is often held up as a way to significantly reduce excessive uses-of-force.

Click here to read the full remarks

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Rafael A. Mangual is a senior fellow and head of research for the Policing and Public Safety Initiative at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor of City Journal. Follow him on Twitter here

Photo by BlakeDavidTaylor/iStock

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