Week 7 Hot Topic: Extra Credit
Tom Frieden, a former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warns that “simple, depressing math” indicates hospitalizations will pass 100,000 within a month, placing a perilous strain on the health care system. Almost 70,000 Americans were in hospitals Saturday due to the virus. There were 166,555 new cases and 1,266 reported deaths, which could reach 2,000 daily by the end of the year without a unified effort to halt the surge, Frieden warned. “Let’s stay safe, keep in touch with friends and family, and have a happy and socially connected but physically distant Thanksgiving!” Frieden tweeted Sunday.
Last spring, the coronavirus attacked major metro areas like New York City and Houston. This summer, it spread to suburban communities and ravaged the Sunbelt. The current wave, which has surpassed 2,000 deaths a day, frightens public health officials because it’s tearing into the frayed health care safety net of rural America. Many of the nation’s nearly 1,800 rural hospitals lack the equipment, workforce and expertise to handle a surge of COVID-19 patients. Nurses and doctors are getting sick, leaving already short-staffed hospitals more desperate for workers.
The nation’s new COVID-19 spike is poised to send hundreds of thousands of students who were in school at least part-time back to 100% remote learning.
To get the country back on the path to being normal again, scientific experts are saying that wearing a mask in public and staying 6 feet apart in conjunction with a future vaccine will get us there. If everyone wants to get things back to normal, why is it so hard to wear a mask in public and practice social distancing? What’s more important, discomfort from wearing a mask, or potentially becoming ill yourself or infecting others around you?
What are your thoughts?
Extra Credit Part 2
The qualified immunity doctrine, as applied to police, initially asks two questions: Did police use excessive force, and if they did, should they have known that their conduct was illegal because it violated a “clearly established” prior court ruling that barred such conduct? The idea behind the doctrine was to protect police from frivolous lawsuits and allow some “breathing room” for police mistakes that involve split-second judgments in tense and dangerous situations.
But in practice, because of recent Supreme Court decisions, lower courts have most often dismissed police misconduct lawsuits on grounds that there is no prior court decision with nearly identical facts.
Several recent studies, have found that dozens of cases involving horrific acts, some just as bad as those involving George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., were thrown out of court on the grounds that there was no “clearly established” court precedent forbidding the conduct.
Two Supreme Court justices have repeatedly urged the court to reexamine qualified immunity doctrine: Sonia Sotomayor, arguably the court’s most liberal justice, and Thomas, arguably its most conservative. In one previous dissent, Sotomayor said the court “displays an unflinching willingness” in allowing the lower courts to grant qualified immunity to police officers but “rarely intervenes” when lower courts go too far. This “one-sided approach” transforms qualified immunity into “an absolute shield for law enforcement officers,” she wrote.
Similar unusual ideological alliances have been formed by organizations that file briefs regularly at the court from the conservative/libertarian Cato Institute and the Institute for Justice to the liberal American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, all of which have urged the court to revisit the qualified immunity doctrine.
What are your thoughts regarding “Qualified Immunity”?
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