Civil and Human Rights

RELEASE: Reaction to DOJ filing in Caniglia v. Strom

WASHINGTON — On the filing of a brief by the U.S. Department of Justice in Caniglia v. Strom earlier this month, Constitutional Accountability Center President Elizabeth Wydra issued the following statement:

Constitutional Accountability Center is disappointed with the Department of Justice’s recent filing in Caniglia v. Strom, an important case about the scope of police power that is scheduled for oral argument at the U.S. Supreme Court on March 24. In one of the Biden Administration’s first amicus briefs, the Department of Justice chose to support the doctrine of qualified immunity, as well as giving police officers a sweeping new power to invade the home even when there has been no criminal wrongdoing.

As the work of CAC and others has shown, qualified immunity is squarely at odds with the text and history of both our Constitution and key federal statutes that provide a remedy for official abuse of power. And in the wake of sustained public outcry over countless senseless and brutal police killings of Black people, pressure is only growing to limit the scope of authority that police wield and increase the accountability they must face. It is therefore deeply troubling that the Biden Administration would advocate for this judge-made doctrine that prevents holding police officers and others accountable in a court of law.

On top of that, the acting Solicitor General’s position in this case would result in a massive expansion of opportunities for the police to search people’s homes without a warrant and without any individualized suspicion of criminal wrongdoing, in violation of the text and history of the Fourth Amendment. Such unbridled authority would have a disproportionate effect on the poorest and most marginalized communities.

As we await the confirmation of Judge Merrick Garland, Vanita Gupta, Kristen Clarke, and the nomination of a Solicitor General, this filing only reinforces why it is so important that critically important leadership at the Department of Justice be confirmed to ensure the Biden Administration is carefully considering its litigation stances on key issues.

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Resources:

CAC case page for Caniglia v. Stromhttps://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/caniglia-v-strom/

CAC case page for Taylor v. Riojas, et al. (discussing qualified immunity doctrine): https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/taylor-v-riojas-et-al/

RELEASE: “Qualified Immunity: The Only Way to Fix It Is to End It,” Elizabeth Wydra, June 10, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/news/release-qualified-immunity-the-only-way-to-fix-it-is-to-end-it/

“To Restore Accountability for Police Abuse, Reform of ‘Qualified Immunity’ Is Overdue,” CAC Blog, Brian Frazelle, April 17, 2020: https://www.theusconstitution.org/blog/to-restore-accountability-for-police-abuse-reform-of-qualified-immunity-is-overdue/

“‘We Do Not Want to be Hunted’: The Right to be Secure and Our Constitutional Story of Race and Policing,” David H. Gans, July 23, 2020 (forthcoming, Columbia Journal of Race and the Law): https://www.theusconstitution.org/think_tank/racistpolicing/

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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