- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2020

A coalition of 1,400 current and former professional athletes, coaches, and managers want Congress to end qualified immunity for police officers.

Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that protects various government officials from liability for actions they take in their governmental capacity.

The Players Coalition letter to Capitol Hill lawmakers on Wednesday includes signatories from Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, and the National Football League such as former Washington Redskins quarterback Case Keenum, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich, and St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Dexter Fowler among many others.

The coalition wants Congress to pass legislation to end qualified immunity for police officers authored by Reps. Justin Amash, Michigan Libertarian, and Ayanna Pressley, Massachusetts Democrat, in response to the killings of George Floyd in Minnesota and Breonna Taylor in Kentucky by police.

“It is time for Congress to eliminate qualified immunity, and it can do so by passing the Amash-Pressley bill,” the Players Coalition wrote. “When police officers kill an unarmed man, when they beat a woman, or when they shoot a child, the people of this country must have a way to hold them accountable in a court of law. And officers must know that if they act in such a manner, there will be repercussions. A legal system that does not provide such a recourse is an illegitimate one.”

The coalition also singled out the U.S. Supreme Court for contributing to the nation’s ongoing problems that the coalition writes has resulted from qualified immunity protections for bad actors in law enforcement’s ranks.

“The Supreme Court has caused irreparable harm to public trust by creating and then expanding the doctrine of qualified immunity, which often exempts police officers and others from liability, even for shocking abuse,” the Players Coalition wrote.

Mr. Amash and Ms. Pressley introduced the legislation last week in the House without any Republican cosponsors. The legislation has received support from outside groups sympathetic to right-leaning policy, however, including the Republican Liberty Caucus and Young Americans for Liberty, according to a press release from Mr. Amash.

• Ryan Lovelace can be reached at rlovelace@washingtontimes.com.

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