Article Title

"Yes Harm, No Foul": Recalibrating Qualified Immunity

Publication Title

Washington University Journal of Law & Policy


The current state of qualified immunity allows victims to be violated but not vindicated. The judicial created doctrine of qualified immunity has been strongly supported by the Supreme Court. Recently, opposition has increased from legal commentators, members of Congress, and judges across political and ideological lines. This Note analyzes qualified immunity and proposes bringing the doctrine back in line with its common-law foundation. Watson proposes reinstating the original applicability of § 1983 and returning to a common-law understanding of qualified immunity. Watson advocates for keeping officials accountable while protecting officials from burdensome litigation, and better serving justice for those whose rights have been violated.