Carson Wentz is among the over 1,400 signatures of current and retired American sports figures gathered by the Players Coalition in a letter to the United States Congress urging the passage of the Ending Qualified Immunity Act, aka the Amash-Pressley Act.
In essence, this bill would give private American citizens a better chance to hold police officers and other public officials accountable for their actions when constitutional rights are violated.
The bill was introduced on June 4 by U.S. Representatives Justin Amash, L-Michigan, and Ayanna Presley, D-Massachusetts, in the wake of recent killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by police officers.
In addition to Wentz, there are many more notable signatures from Philadelphia sports figures, including Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz, Andrew McCutchen, Rodney McLeod, Malik Jackson, Tobias Harris, JJ Redick, Chris Long, Torrey Smith, Josh McCown, Jalen Hurts and many more.
Other signatures include Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Steve Kerr, Gregg Popovich, Alex Bregman and Giancarlo Stanton.
The qualified immunity doctrine was introduced in 1967 by the Supreme Court, shielding police officers from liability unless they violated a “clearly established” constitutional right.
From the Players Coalition: “While this may sound reasonable in practice, it means that to hold an officer responsible, a different court must have previously found an officer liable on a nearly identical set of facts. If an officer causes harm, but no court found liability in an earlier case for practically identical behavior, the citizen has no legal recourse. Officers who have killed, seriously harmed, stolen, and committed other serious misconduct have escaped civil liability as a result.”
According to NPR, “The idea behind the doctrine was to protect police from frivolous lawsuits and allow some ‘breathing room’ for police mistakes that involve split-second judgments that are made in tense and dangerous situations.”
According to a release from the Players Coalition, this bill would “help restore the public trust in government and law enforcement by ending qualified immunity for public officials, including police officers. This Act would ensure that whenever a citizen’s constitutional rights are violated, he or she will have recourse in a court of law.”
Back on May 28, in the wake of Floyd’s death, Wentz released a statement condemning “institutional racism” but didn’t specifically mention police or police brutality. He and many others in the sports world are now demanding change.
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