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Qualified immunity protects officials from damages for
constitutional violations unless they have violated “clearly
established” rights. Local governments enjoy no immunity, but
they may not be sued on a vicarious liability theory for
constitutional violations committed by their employees. Critics
of the current regime would overturn these rules in order to
vindicate constitutional rights and deter violations. This
Article argues that across-the-board abolition of these limits on
liability would be unwise as the costs would outweigh the
benefits. In some contexts, however, exceptions may be justified.
Much of the recent controversy surrounding qualified
immunity involves suits in which police officers are sued for
excessive force. The case for qualified immunity is weak in that
context. But, in other contexts, the case for qualified immunity
is much stronger, making calls for its complete abolition