Social Movement Theory and the Role of Qualified Immunity in Increasing Political Violence

28 Pages Posted: 3 May 2022

See all articles by Cesar Estrada

Cesar Estrada

University of Notre Dame - Notre Dame Law School

Date Written: April 13, 2022

Abstract

Over the last sixty years, the United States Supreme Court and lower federal courts have created and strengthened the doctrine of qualified immunity to afford police officers a nearly impenetrable shield against liability for violating the civil rights of civilians. The Supreme Court has crafted a legal standard that is rife with procedural and substantive hurdles which has made it extremely difficult to overcome. The lack of police accountability is coming in direct contact with the American foundational expectation that the our legal system renders justice to those who break the law, and this discrepancy between the expectation of justice and the inability of the legal system to hold police officers accountable for their actions is tearing at the social fabric of this country by increasing the potential for political violence. Social movement theory developed by the social sciences suggests that there will be an increase level of civic engagement in protests, both peaceful and violence, and will not decrease until this discrepancy between the American understanding of justice and accountability in relation to police officers is lessened. Until then, we can continue to expect protests to occur, and the potential for political violence to continue to increase.

Keywords: qualified immunity, Section 1983, § 1983, police officers, social movement theory, gurr, ted gurr, relative deprivation theory, political violence

Suggested Citation

Estrada, Cesar, Social Movement Theory and the Role of Qualified Immunity in Increasing Political Violence (April 13, 2022). Notre Dame Journal of Law, Ethics and Public Policy, Vol. 36, No. 1, 2022, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4083484

Cesar Estrada (Contact Author)

University of Notre Dame - Notre Dame Law School ( email )

Eck Hall of Law
Notre Dame, IN 46556
United States

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