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The major democracy-eroding decisions handed down by the malevolent tribunal of unaccountable Christofascists have garnered much of our attention of late and rightfully so.
But there were a number of things the Supreme Court declined to take up this term that are of particular interest to me regarding my specific bugbear of qualified immunity. The law is like jazz you see. Sometimes it's about the notes you don't play. Also it's usually just made up on the fly.
Qualified immunity as you will recall is the idea that police can get away with the most absurd and depraved acts of violence or indifference to human life as long as there is no prior legal precedent establishing that the exact circumstances in which the harm occurred was unconstitutional. For example the case of Ramirez v. Guadarrama which we've covered in here a couple times before.
As a quick reminder in that case a Texas man named Gabriel Olivas who was suicidal had doused himself in gasoline. When the police arrived they tased the man despite obviously knowing and saying the words out loud among themselves that doing so would set him on fire. The Fifth Circuit ruled against the man's estate when they sued the police saying essentially that there was no other course of action for them to take here.
Although the Supreme Court declined to review the decision Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a dissent in which she noted that the Fifth Circuit had concluded the family "had not shown that Olivas had any 'clearly established' 'constitutional right not to be tased' and 'caus[ed] . . . to burst into flames.'"
What good is a fucking Constitution if the rights it grants us do not include the right to not be set on fire by the armed agents of the state?
She went on:
"...the officers elected to use force knowing that it would directly cause the very outcome they claim to have sought to avoid. That is, to prevent Olivas from lighting himself on fire and burning down the house, the officers tased Olivas just after they were warned that it would light him on fire."
Anyway those cops are off the hook now so congrats to them but just when you think that's going to be the worst example of how permissive our courts are when it comes to letting them kill us or have any responsibility to give one single fucking shit about our lives here comes another qualified immunity case the Supreme Court also declined to take up called Cope v. Cogdill.
In this case another Texas man named Derrek Monroe was arrested for a drug offense and being held pre-trial. Despite having informed police that he was suicidal and experiencing mental distress on intake and then twice attempting to strangle himself in a cell with his bedding he was transferred alone to a different cell where there was a 30 inch long phone cord.
The one jailer on duty at the time then watched through the bars of the cell for ten minutes as Monroe wrapped the cord around his neck and hung himself all the while denying him any sort of aid and not calling 911 until after his supervisor arrived. Monroe would later die at the hospital.
Monroe's mother brought suit against the officer in question and other prison officials for acting with deliberate indifference to his life and while the Fifth Circuit agreed with that in general and sort of chastised the cops lightly they ultimately granted them qualified immunity because there was no prior example of an inmate trying to kill themselves using a telephone cord in this specific prison. Blankets and sheets yes but not a telephone cord.
How could they know what might happen if this exact thing had never happened before?
This is the law we're talking about however and as we've well established the law is basically Calvinball.
Writing in dissent again Sotomayor highlighted the absurdity of threading the needle of permissible indifference on behalf of the cops like this.
The Fifth Circuit "acknowledged that it had previously held that officers were not entitled to qualified immunity when they gave suicidal inmates bedding or blankets...In the court’s view, however, the dangers posed by a telephone cord were 'not as obvious as the dangers posed by bedding.' ...The court therefore concluded that holding Monroe in a cell containing a 30-inch telephone cord, unlike holding him in a cell containing a blanket, did not violate a clearly established constitutional right."
The jailer in question who watched this sick suffering man kill himself is named Laws by the way. Jessie Laws. A little on the nose but there it is.
Needless to say but I'll say it anyway both of these cases and qualified immunity in general are profane. They are fucking vulgar and profane and I spit on this shitty country of death.
Maybe somehow more alarming than that were some of the cases the Supreme Court announced they'll be taking up next term.
I was going to say welp we had a good run but did we? How good was our run in retrospect?
I was just thinking for some reason about when I spoke with Kim Kelly in here a while back and I asked her to sell me on the idea of the lefty case for the second amendment. Much to think about. Check that piece out below and also while I'm thinking of it pick up Kim's very good recent book on the history of the labor in America Fight Like Hell.
Paid subscribers will have missed this "here's what you missed lately" post I sent out to the free list the other day. That's kind of confusing but you know what I mean. It's got some stuff in it on how ill prepared the national media is for this moment so if you're the type of pervert who needs to read every single thing published in Hell World here you go.
Probably worth saying this shit again considering the amount of excuse-making I've seen from Blue MAGA Democrat fans of late in response to the Biden administration's inaction on ... well ... everything.
I've been told there is a shortage of lifeguards in cities around the country this summer. Perhaps no one wants to be a lifeguard anymore or perhaps there's some other issue going on vis a vis where the money is going.
Meanwhile in New York it seems like it's better to funnel city money to PR and consulting firms to come up with an awareness campaign about safe swimming than spending the money on lifeguards I guess.
Here are a couple of interesting charts.
Only one solution to get those arrows pointing in the other direction in one fell swoop here.
That's all for today. Have a nice weekend if you can.