Oregon Law Review : Vol. 85 No. 4, p. 1027-1062 : Fairness or Fiction: Striking a Balance Between the Goals of § 1983 and the Policy Concerns Motivating Qualified Immunity
Ackerman, Caryn J.
Part I provides a brief overview of the background of qualified immunity, including its development and the motivations behind its creation. Part II examines the narrowest approach taken by any of the circuits in regard to the relevance of extracircuit precedent by analyzing a case from the Eleventh Circuit. Part III examines another case from the Eleventh Circuit, one that, in contrast to the previous case, was decided after three significant Supreme Court cases that forced courts of appeals to make significant changes to their qualified immunity analyses. Essentially, Parts II and III seek to answer two primary questions: First, does allowing some circuits to narrowly define relevant precedent that may clearly establish the law detrimentally affect plaintiffs to the extent that the Supreme Court should itself articulate a binding standard with more breadth? And second, even if such a standard was at one time needed, did the Court’s recent decisions render such a standard unnecessary? This Comment argues that a narrow standard creates an unwarranted disadvantage for plaintiffs such that a uniform standard regarding the relevance of extracircuit precedent is still vitally necessary. Part IV argues that a standard approach among all circuits requiring consideration of extracircuit precedent in the absence of binding intracircuit precedent is crucial to the development of civil rights jurisprudence.