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Washington D.C. Legislation

Originally Posted on March 08, 2021


The United States Senate is considering legislation that would end qualified immunity for law enforcement. The House approved the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act” by a margin of eight votes (220-212.) Two Democrats joined all of the Republicans (one Republican mis-recorded his vote) in voting yes. President Biden has already indicated his support for the legislation. Our only hope in preventing this Act from becoming law which would eliminate qualified immunity, defund the police, limit the use of force, and multiple other terrible changes to law enforcement is the Democrat controlled United States Senate.

One issue with qualified immunity is that many lawmakers and citizens in general do not understand what it is. They don’t understand that it applies to all public employees, not just law enforcement. They don’t understand that it is qualified and not absolute immunity. They don’t understand that qualified immunity protects lawful reasonable actions and is not granted in all cases. They don’t understand that the removal of qualified immunity would result in law enforcement that would be crippled by frivolous lawsuits. A history lesson can help one understand how and why qualified immunity came to be in the first place.

The National FOP is actively engaged in fighting this legislation, and they have indicated they are hopeful that there will be enough “NO” votes to stop this bill in the Senate. Illinois Democrat US Senators Durbin and Duckworth are expected to vote yes to support this devastating legislation, but Republican US Senators are holding fast in their opposition.

Blocking the federal legislation will not necessarily keep Illinois law enforcement officers covered by qualified immunity. As part of Illinois HB 3653, the legislation that was hurriedly passed on the final day of Illinois’ January Lame Duck Session and recently signed into law by Governor Pritzker, Illinois will rely on a report from an unbalanced task force which will make recommendations to the General Assembly on whether Illinois law enforcement officers should be stripped of qualified immunity and treated as second class public employees when it comes to their ability to do their jobs. When this occurs, the General Assembly will still have to pass legislation to remove qualified immunity. The task force’s report is due on May 1, 2021 which would give the General Assembly just enough time to pass the recommendations into law to be effective July 1.

The Illinois Fraternal Order of Police State Lodge, Illinois FOP Labor Council, Illinois Troopers Lodge #41, Chicago FOP Lodge #7 and Illinois Department of Corrections Lodge #263 are all tirelessly working to educate lawmakers so that they vote “NO” on eliminating qualified immunity.

In the wake of a national narrative that is increasingly anti-police, it is impossible to take anything regarding law enforcement for granted. This fight will not be over based on one vote or one success. We will ALL need to be engaged on this issue, and multiple other issues as we continue through this legislative year, next year, and for as long as this anti-police rhetoric persists.


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