Taylor v. Barkes: Summary reversal is part of a qualified immunity trend

The defense of qualified immunity enables government officials to defend against constitutional claims on the ground that the right they violated was not “clearly established” and therefore a reasonable officer would not have known that his conduct violated the law. It’s an oft-asserted and powerful defense. And at the Supreme Court, it’s the rationale for a steady string of summary reversals, including yesterday’s decision in Taylor v. Barkes. It’s worth asking what function these reversals serve.
In yesterday’s case, the family of Christopher Barkes, who committed suicide as an inmate at a Delaware prison, sued various state officers and entities for failing to take adequate care to prevent the suicide even though Barkes had a history of psychiatric treatment and had previously attempted suicide. The district court denied summary judgment to the defendants. The Third Circuit affirmed, holding

Original SCOTUS article

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