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Our View: Supreme Court needs to make clear it won't shield bad cops

1 14 5
02.09.2021

For decades, the Supreme Court has shielded police and prison guards from accountability even when they violate people’s rights in the most outrageous ways.

But in recent rulings, the court signaled it may finally have had enough of the bizarre shield it created for cops and corrections officers – a doctrine known as qualified immunity.

In August, a federal appeals court in Denver took the Supreme Court’s signal and ran with it. A three-judge panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that qualified immunity did not protect a corrections officer who violated a Muslim inmate’s First Amendment right to obey the dictates of his religion. A sergeant at a Denver intake center forced the inmate to shave his beard, grown for religious reasons, threatening him with solitary confinement if he refused.

This violated the prison’s own policy, which exempts religiously required beards. It also singled out a Muslim inmate while inmates of other religions were allowed to keep objects, such as Bibles and crosses, important to their faith.

By overturning that lower court decision, the10th Circuit not only opened the way for the inmate to sue, but also launched what would be a welcome new........

© USA TODAY


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