Briefly 2.4 – Qualified Immunity


Today on Briefly we explore the controversial doctrine of “qualified immunity,” a constitutional law doctrine that prevents executive officials like police from being brought into court for alleged constitutional violations, including acts of violence. Where does the immunity come from? Why does it exist? Is it to protect government officers from their deeds? Or is it to allow courts to expand civil rights without creating numerous court cases?

We spoke to three scholars, Harvard’s Richard Fallon, the editor of Hart and Wechsler’s The Federal Courts and the Federal System; William Baude, professor at the University of Chicago Law School and author of “Is Qualified Immunity Unlawful?” in the California Law Review; and Joanna Schwartz, a professor at UCLA law whose empirical studies of qualified immunity in practice have been published in the Yale Law Journal and Notre Dame Law Review.

This episode was produced by David Sandefer. Music from