Monday, January 03, 2005

Two disturbing developments

For a while now the missus has subscribed to's civil liberties newsletter edited by Andrew Somers, and she forwards me two interesting items from it today.

First, a
report on an unfortunate, recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Haugen v. Brousseau. Have you heard the phrase, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse"? Well, the Supremes have added the addendum, "unless you are a police officer." I started to blog on this when the decision came out and didn't get to it, but as I understand the summary reversal (pdf), now, individuals can't recover damages even when an officer's actions were unconstitutional, because the officer might not know his or her actions were unconstitutional.
What a crock.

The Volokh Conspiracy sympathetically summarizes the case here, while Overlawyered finds the overturned ruling "criminal friendly," and the 9th Circuit "zany" for making it. My question, then:
What level of training on use of force must an officer have before he or she may be held liable for shooting an unarmed suspect in the back? The Supremes' majority certainly did not deign to tell us. The implied answer is "never."

The second piece links to items related to the
debate over a national ID card, and the extent to which the new Intelligence bill moves us in that direction. See Grits discussion of the new Intelligence bill in light of Texas-specific initiatives here.

You can subscribe to's civil liberties newsletter here; just scroll down and look in the left hand column.

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