Updated:
February 14, 2019

Whether the Supreme Court should grant certiorari to re-evaluate the qualified immunity doctrine, which protects government officials from liability for violating an individual’s constitutional rights in a wide range of situations.

In this case, Allah brought a Section 1983 claim against the prison officials responsible for the decision to place and keep him in Administrative Segregation. After a bench trial, the district court ruled that defendants had violated Allah’s due process rights. On appeal, the Second Circuit unanimously affirmed that Allah’s rights had been violated but, in a split decision, the court held that the Defendants were entitled to qualified immunity.

With the Cato Institute and others, the ACLU filed an amicus curie brief joined by fifteen cross-ideological groups, reflecting a diverse set of ideological viewpoints and a shared commitment to ensuring the rule of law. The brief argues that the Supreme Court’s qualified immunity doctrine under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 misunderstands that statute and its common-law backdrop, denies justice to victims of egregious constitutional violations, and fails to provide accountability for official wrongdoing. We urge the Supreme Court to revisit qualified immunity as the doctrine has radically diminished government accountability, and therefore the public’s trust in government institutions.

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