John C. Jeffries, Jr.

What’s Wrong with Qualified Immunity?

Florida Law Review


Originally delivered as the Dunwody Lecture at the University of Florida, this paper argues that “qualified immunity needs a course correction.” The Supreme Court’s attempt to strike a balance between the “importance of a damages remedy to protect the rights of citizens” and the “public interest in encouraging the vigorous exercise of official authority” (Harlow v. Fitzgerald) may have seemed sensible in the abstract, but has broken down in administration. Today, the law of qualified immunity is complicated, unstable, and overprotective of government officers. This paper documents those defects and proposes reforms designed to “get constitutional tort law back on track.”


John C. Jeffries Jr., What’s Wrong with Qualified Immunity?, 62 Florida Law Review, 851–869 (2010).

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