Patterico's Pontifications


Mattis Rips Trump in Statement

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:35 pm

This speaks for itself:

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside.

. . . Militarizing our response, as we witnessed in Washington, D.C., sets up a conflict—a false conflict— between the military and civilian society. It erodes the moral ground that ensures a trusted bond between men and women in uniform and the society they are sworn to protect, and of which they themselves are a part.

. . . .

Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people—does not even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us. We are witnessing the consequences of three years of this deliberate effort. We are witnessing the consequences of three years without mature leadership. We can unite without him, drawing on the strengths inherent in our civil society. This will not be easy, as the past few days have shown, but we owe it to our fellow citizens; to past generations that bled to defend our promise; and to our children.


AG To Announce Upgraded Charges Against Chauvin, Three Other Officers To Face Charges In George Floyd Killing (Update Added)

Filed under: General — Dana @ 11:25 am

[guest post by Dana]

The announcement is supposed to be made later today:

Attorney General Keith Ellison plans to elevate charges against the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck while adding charges of aiding and abetting murder against the other three officers at the scene, according to multiple law enforcement sources familiar with the case.

Ellison is expected to provide an update this afternoon on the state’s investigation into Floyd’s death. According to sources, former officer Derek Chauvin, recorded on video kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he begged for air on May 25, will now be charged with second-degree murder.

The other three officers at the scene — Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane — will also be charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder, according to the sources, who spoke on conditions of anonymity. Chauvin was arrested last Friday and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

The upgraded charges raise the maximum sentence from 25 years behind bars to 40 years behind bars.

I’ll update the post after Ellison makes the official announcement.



The three officers, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34, were charged with aiding and abetting murder, court records show. Mr. Kueng was in custody on Wednesday, county jail records showed. The authorities said they were in the process of arresting Mr. Lane and Mr. Thao.

The fourth officer, Derek Chauvin, 44, who was arrested last week, faces an increased charge of second-degree murder.

Mr. Thao had faced six prior misconduct complaints in his career with the Minneapolis Police Department. He also was the subject of a lawsuit that claimed he and another officer punched, kicked and kneed an African-American man, leaving the man with broken teeth and bruises. A lawyer involved in the case said that the city settled the case by agreeing to pay $25,000.

Mr. Chauvin had faced at least 17 misconduct complaints over nearly two decades with the department.

Neither Mr. Lane nor Mr. Kueng had prior misconduct complaints filed against them, according to the police department.

“Trying this case will not be an easy thing,” [Keith Ellison] said. “Winning a conviction will be hard.”

He also called on protesters to continue peaceful demonstrations and to work toward more lasting change.

“The very fact we have filed these charges means we have believed in them,” Mr. Ellison said. “But what I do not believe is that one successful prosecution can rectify the hurt and loss that so many people feel.”

Justin Amash To Introduce Qualified Immunity Act

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:09 am

[guest post by Dana]

Over the past few days, we’ve been discussing the possibility of eliminating qualified immunity, and what that might look like. Here is what Amash is introducing:

As part of the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Congress allowed individuals to sue state and local officials, including police officers, who violate their rights. Starting in 1967, the Supreme Court began gutting that law by inventing the doctrine of qualified immunity.

Under qualified immunity, police are immune from liability unless the person whose rights they violated can show that there is a previous case in the same jurisdiction, involving the exact same facts, in which a court deemed the actions to be a constitutional violation.

This rule has sharply narrowed the situations in which police can be held liable—even for truly heinous rights violations—and it creates a disincentive to bringing cases in the first place.

If a plaintiff knows there is no prior case that is identical to theirs, they may decline to even file a lawsuit because they are very unlikely to win.

Even if a plaintiff does file a case, a judge may dismiss it on qualified immunity grounds and decline to decide whether the plaintiff’s rights were violated, meaning the constitutional precedent still isn’t established and so the next plaintiff still can’t recover.

This can create a permanent procedural roadblock for plaintiffs, preventing them from obtaining damages for having their rights violated.

Qualified immunity was created by the Supreme Court in contravention of the text of the statute and the intent of Congress. It is time for us to correct their mistake.

My bill, the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, does this by explicitly noting in the statute that the elements of qualified immunity outlined by the Supreme Court are not a defense to liability.

The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of incidents of egregious police misconduct.

This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from consequences for violating the rights of the people whom they have sworn to serve. That must change so that these incidents of brutality stop happening.

Until then, we must ensure that those whose rights are violated by police aren’t forced to suffer the added injustice of being denied their day in court.


UPDATE BY PATTERICO: I agree with Amash on many things but completely eliminating qualified immunity is not one of them. I understand his position is popular on the Internet — indeed, supporting law enforcement is not popular, because radical leftists are anti-law enforcement, and our criminal president has undermined respect for the rule of law on the right. But it is not immediately clear to me that it is a good idea to force police officers to defend themselves against claims that fail to establish they unreasonably violated a clearly established constitutional right. The doctrine might need some reining in. It should not be eliminated.

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