In 2020, The Fourth Amendment Alliance issued The Supreme Court Challenge.
In conjunction with that, and because it is required for the Supreme Court to act, we issue The Legislatures Challenge.
PART ONE: REQUIRE $1M OF INDEMNITY INSURANCE FOR ALL OFFICERS, TO PROTECT OFFICERS AND CITIZENS
This can be done at the Federal level, to create a uniform standard nationwide, or the states can do it separately.
This is required for two reasons:
1) Police powers are significant, and the potential for damage to citizens from civil rights violations is significant. It happens; maliciously, inadvertently and negligently. We have all seen too many videos.
2) The Supreme Court will not likely change the precedents it has created that deny remedies for civil rights violations, and the Supreme Court will not likely be honest about remedies for violations and dispense Equal Justice Under Law, until adequate financial protection for officers and citizens is in place.
CONGRESS: Create a bill and pass into law a requirement that every person who wields police powers must carry personally purchased indemnity insurance in the minimum amount of $1M, to provide financial protection of officers and to US citizens in the event of a violation of the civil rights of a citizen covered by the Constitution's civil rights protections.
STATES: Observe that some states already require indemnity insurance, and some even require the $1M minimum we advocate. Bravo. This coverage must be uniform nationwide and individually purchased, for reasons we outline in Future Vision and in The Supreme Court Challenge. If Congress does not act to create uniformity nationwide, states that have no requirement must add it, and states that have paltry amounts of coverage must step up to the uniform standard minimum of $1M. Coverage must be sufficient to compensate when any life is lost, and sufficient to compensate even highly accomplished citizens when other damage is inflicted into a life such as time stolen by pointless/bullying arrests (See Future Vision). A day in jail that violates civil rights has different values in different lives. And when life is lost, we recognize that every life has value, both in itself and in the impact it can have on others. All people are connected like the large and small branches of a mighty tree. Coverage minimum must be $1M.
Important question: Will this cause a flood of new claims? No. Thousands of claims are currently just settled out of court and hidden quietly behind "confidential settlements". Taxpayers who pay the claims cannot even scrutinize these "confidential settlements" in municipal budgets. If nothing changed, the number of civil rights violations, the number of settlements and the settlement amounts would likely be the same with indemnity insurance uniformly in place. There will just be a light shone into the darkness with a modern and honest process. And that light of scrutiny is what will reduce the number of civil rights violations, reduce the number of claims and reduce the settlement amounts. Citizens and taxpayers win. A common sense upgrade to improve the system for the modern era.
People need to know indemnity coverage is universally there...especially the people who sit on the Supreme Court. Then our judges can be honest about when civil rights are violated and the judges can admit that lives of citizens are damaged, and that "A violation is a violation, and when rights are violated, restitution is due." Nobody need feel sorry for a police officer who inflicted a civil rights violation who is personally unable to make restitution for the damage inflicted. And no citizen will go uncompensated because an officer has no financial means to make proper restitution.
PART ONE is easy. Legislatures must mandate that every person who wields police powers must carry a minimum of $1M indemnity coverage to protect officers and citizens, so both are protected financially when civil rights violations happen.
For a greater understanding of why, see The Supreme Court Challenge.
PART TWO: STATES MUST AMEND OR ELIMINATE LAWS THAT ARE IMPROPERLY CITED AS EXCUSES TO ABUSE CIVIL RIGHTS
Any officer can either be an overbearing bully, or can respect Constitutional civil rights. Observe just two illustrations of what bullies with badges do, and observe how "laws" are manipulated by bullies with badges. And then consider what states must do.
EXHIBIT A: Ohio has a law that makes it illegal to "interfere with a police emergency". On its surface, that sounds like a reasonable law and a reasonable expectation in civil society. And the heart of the matter of "allowing officer to do their job" is covered elsewhere in law certainly. Yet consider how this nuanced law is deployed, and with frequency recently, as if officers have discovered a new way to bully citizens.
Police respond to an incident/call one evening, and multiple officers are physically attacking and restraining a young man in the street. Neighbors, attracted by the commotion, are standing in their yards, and a few are filming the incident. No law prohibits citizens from filming officers. One of the officers exhibits excessive brutality and punches the young victim in the face, causing exclamations from the neighbors. One officer breaks away from the brutality and confronts a nearby neighbor filming the incident, yelling at the man to turn the camera off. The man stands firm and indicates that he knows his rights and will not stop filming. The officer becomes even more hostile and violent, grabs the man and handcuffs him and claims, 'Then you are going to jail for interfering with a police emergency'. Right. "Interfering, by minding your own business, standing on your own property..."
That is the charge under which a citizen is arrested, locked into jail through the next day, has a court date, has to hire a defense attorney ($$), has an arrest record published (which effects everything from his insurance prices, credit rating, professional licenses, reputation and public image, etc.). Colluding in civil rights abuses, the prosecutor's office engaged in "malicious prosecution", likely forced to do so to protect a bully with a badge because they have multiple cases together. So the prosecutor allowed the charge to stand while hoping to get the citizen to surrender and agree to a plea deal to drop the charge. Still, the citizen knew his rights and knew he did nothing illegal, so he took the case to trial. At the trial date, the prosecutor withdrew the charge and dropped the case. Yet the citizen had to spend time and money to fully prepare for a trial that everyone knew was a sham, and that everyone but the citizen and his attorney knew was so bogus that the trial wouldn't even happen. And then the citizen must spend even more time and money to have the bogus arrest record "expunged" (deleted). There are absolutely no negative repercussions to the malicious bully of an officer to that point.
Granted, the officer clearly abused the citizen's civil right "to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures", and a civil rights lawsuit should be assured of success to reimburse the lost time and expenses (responsibility on the Supreme Court -- hence the Supreme Court Challenge). But the individual has to pay for that civil rights lawsuit. The citizen will lose hundreds, perhaps thousands of hours prosecuting the case, taking time from work and family. No taxpayer-funded operation pays the cost to prosecute those crimes, and even if a civil rights organization hired attorneys and paid the costs, the individual still must invest the time that should never have been stolen from him. The lost $$ and time make this type of civil rights violation a tremendous burden on citizens, so there must be justice for civil rights violations. The practice of manipulating benign laws and bullying must end.
EXHIBIT B: Many states have a statute that makes it illegal to "forcibly resist an officer lawfully engaged in official duties". Again, sounds plausible on its surface. Abusive bullies with badges misuse this statute too. In videos of arrests, officers can frequently be heard yelling "stop resisting". They have been trained to shout this (so it can be heard on microphones), to establish this accusation, whether the person is actually fighting physically, or is actually being as passive as possible. Officers have even been heard on video yelling this at citizens who are handcuffed and on the ground and unable to move because officers are holding them down, but when it hasn't been shouted yet, they do so to "get it on camera". And a charge this squishy is also often added as a "piling on" to other charges to make an arrest sound more legitimate than video shows.
Whether any charge is legitimately used or not, and regardless of whether the charge is later dropped, once the arrest is made the damage done to the citizen begins. For those arrests that are not legitimate, the civil rights violations result in officers stealing time and money from citizens. And time/freedom is by far the most valuable commodity any person has, and the only thing that once lost cannot ever be recovered.
Abuse of these types of statutes is done by some officers who disrespect the civil rights of citizens. That disrespect is only corrected by, 1) civil rights training to teach proper deployment of police powers, and 2) justice in our courts, to correct bullies and errors.
The laws of our states must be written in such a way that it is clear what is and what is not a violation of the law. In today's world with ubiquitous video, everyone should be able to agree whether a law was broken, whether civil rights were violated. Good officers want this clarity too. Clarity will allow justice to be easy and clear in our criminal courts, and will allow justice to be easy and clear in our Federal Courts when civil rights are violated.
PART TWO of the Legislatures Challenge is to provide clarity to the laws. Where clarity is lacking, legislatures must put into place mechanisms to observe the arrest patterns in states, find the abuses by officers where cases are frequently dropped or decided against officers (see Future Vision). When abuses happen, there must be a process to shine a light on those abuses and end the law enforcement careers of the bullies who maliciously abuse the civil rights of citizens. Preserving America's Constitutional civil rights requires it.