Supreme Court Win for Local Government in Qualified Immunity Case
April 19, 2012 |
On Tuesday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Filarsky v. Delia that law firm attorneys temporarily hired by the government may receive immunity from a lawsuit for violating someone’s constitutional rights.
ICMA signed onto the State and Local Legal Center’s amicus brief in this case which argued that local governments frequently hire outside counsel, and outside attorneys are likely to raise their rates or even refuse to represent government altogether if they can never receive qualified immunity.
The Supreme Court concluded that outside attorneys may receive qualified immunity because under common law part-time public servants were common and qualified immunity was granted to them. The Court also discussed a number of policy reasons for why qualified immunity should be granted to private individuals performing occasional services for the government. Some of these reasons include the fact that the “most talented candidates” may decline public assignments if they don’t receive the qualified immunity, the “distractions that accompany even routine lawsuits,” and the difficulty of determining whom is working for the government full-time and permanently.
Patricia Millett, who argued Filarsky before the Court, and Paul Clement, who argued the Affordable Care Act cases before the Court, are both speakers in a free webinar on July 19 hosted by the SLLC on the Supreme Court cases affecting state and local government from this term. Register here.
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