Qualified immunity is protection from civil lawsuits for law enforcement members and other public officials. The purpose of qualified immunity is to balance the need to allow public officials to do their jobs with the need to hold people accountable.
Supporters of qualified immunity say that without the liability shield, public officials and members of law enforcement would constantly be sued and second-guessed in court cases.
Critics argue that it has allowed members of law enforcement to violate the rights of citizens, particularly disenfranchised citizens, without any repercussions.
Qualified immunity is a legal doctrine that was refined by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was first outlined in 1967, but it has been expanded greatly.
At any time, Congress could pass a law that amends, affirms, or revokes qualified immunity. So far, Congress has decided not to do any of these things. However, lawmakers and current justices of the Supreme Court have considered either amending or revoking qualified immunity the way it stands.