In January 2014, two Tennessee police officers set a dog on an unhoused man — he was suspected of stealing electronics — as he sat on the ground, his hands raised in surrender. In January 2017, North Dakota police officers fired beanbag rounds at a peaceful Native American protester who was shielding women and elders in the crowd, hitting him in the face and causing permanent damage to his senses of sight, hearing and smell. And in February 2016, Veterans Affairs security guards choked a 70-year-old veteran and slammed him to the ground because he had placed his identification card in a plastic bin with his other personal belongings, rather than handing it directly to the officers.
Every one of these officers was sued for civil rights violations, and every one of them got off, all because the Supreme Court has severely restricted the right to seek redress in federal courts when government officials violate the Constitution.
As a new book by University of Chicago law professor Aziz Z. Huq explains, this crackdown on constitutional remedies didn’t happen overnight — the court implemented it gradually and with little notice, erecting one legal barrier at a time. And since denying people access to federal courts doesn’t garner the same attention as when the court explicitly narrows the constitutional right at issue in a case, the crackdown has gone largely unnoticed.
Read more at The Washington Post