July 2, 2020
Thank you for contacting my office regarding qualified immunity, and my recent appearance on the television show Tucker Carlson Tonight. I appreciate hearing your thoughtful concerns on this important issue.
First, let me open by saying that no one can fully understand the job of a law enforcement officer unless they have worn the badge. I have the utmost respect for the men and women who serve in law enforcement, putting their lives on the line every single day to protect our communities from danger.
On June 23, 2020, I introduced the Reforming Qualified Immunity Act in the Senate. Since this bill’s introduction, there has been a significant amount of misinformation and confusion surrounding the bill. Let me be absolutely clear when I say that this legislation would not repeal qualified immunity, nor would I ever support legislation that does so.
As a conservative Republican who supports the men and women who wear the badge, I did not want to sit idly by, as Republicans often do, and refuse to engage in the conversation. It is my belief that this would be a dereliction of my duty to Hoosiers and to law enforcement officers. With this in mind, I introduced legislation to make common sense reforms to qualified immunity, including, for the first time, making permanent instances in which qualified immunity could be claimed by law enforcement officers.
Today, when qualified immunity is used, it is up to an individual judge to determine if conduct was in accordance with “clearly established” law. Instead of relying on the will of individual judges, my bill would make it clear: qualified immunity applies when an officer conducts himself or herself in a legal way which has been previously authorized or required by federal law or regulation, state statute, or when a court has found that conduct to be consistent with the Constitution and federal laws. Without this guarantee, these instances could be hijacked by an activist judge in any one case.
What my bill also does is limit the use of qualified immunity when it is clear that a law enforcement officer acted outside of the law and specifically violated the civil rights granted to all of us through the United States Constitution. For too long, liberal city administrations have used police officers as a scapegoat for their own failures on civil rights. These largely Democrat administrations are always ready to throw police under the bus, even when the officers were only following the city’s policies to the letter. My bill would also create a mechanism to hold these municipal governments accountable for the policies that result in civil rights violations.
On June 25, 2020, Mr. Carlson spoke about my proposal on his television show, Tucker Carlson Tonight , claiming that I wanted to make it easier for “left-wing activists to sue police officers.” As one who respects Mr. Carlson and often finds myself in agreement with what he has to say, I was disappointed to hear this mischaracterization. On June 29, I went on Tucker Carlson Tonight to make clear that this is not and never was my intent. I agree with Mr. Carlson’s point that law enforcement officers have to make life-and-death, split-second decisions every day in the line of duty. My legislation would protect officers from these frivolous lawsuits, and it would change absolutely nothing for the hundreds of thousands of law enforcement officers who act within the bounds of the law and according to their training.
I was also disappointed to hear Mr. Carlson allege that I claimed to have the endorsement of law enforcement groups. I said on Tucker Carlson Tonight that I spoke with the Indiana State Police, Indiana Sheriffs Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police “to make sure I wasn’t off-base and [explain] where I come from;” and I was also clear that the groups are “not endorsing it.” Instead, I told Mr. Carlson that the groups said my bill “was a good place to work from” and that they agreed with my belief that “it’s a better idea to be in the discussion than to be outside of it.”
On his show, Mr. Carlson also alleged that I support the national umbrella organization of Black Lives Matter. This is also not the case. As I said on Tucker Carlson Tonight , “I support anybody that does have a grievance to be able to air it and that is it. That doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter, it just means that if you think a certain sector of society has a grievance, it ought to be through transparency and a willingness to debate it and get it out there.”
While I respect the right of peaceful citizens to demonstrate in order to seek recognition of the fact that black lives matter, I also believe the national umbrella organization of Black Lives Matter is an extremist, radical, Marxist organization dedicated to ending the nuclear family and defunding the police. This organization hijacked an important message, and I condemn all acts of violence, rioting, and property destruction done in the name of any social movement. That is why I am a proud original cosponsor a resolution introduced by Senator Mike Lee which formally condemns in no uncertain terms the mob violence that is currently plaguing major cities and subjecting innocent law enforcement officers, public officials, and private citizens to the mob's violent scorn.
Some of my fellow conservatives may disagree with my decision to take up this topic of qualified immunity reform, and I respect their thoughtful candor. However, I believe it is important to know that I am not the only conservative seeking to have this conversation. In fact, my bill has the support of what I believe to be important right-leaning and conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity, Cato Institute, FreedomWorks, Justice Action Network, Right on Crime, and R Street.
Thank you for contacting me. It is an honor to serve as your U.S. Senator from Indiana. Please keep in touch with me on issues of concern to you. You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook for real-time updates on my activities in the U.S. Senate. If I ever may be of service, please do not hesitate to contact me.
P.S. This message was sent by email to save taxpayer dollars.
Thursday, July 2, 2020
Mike Braun Responds
I sent a pretty scorching letter to Indiana Senator Mike Braun after his inept and embarrassing appearance on Tucker Carlson, an appearance that followed his statement of support for black Lives Matter. I published a copy of my letter in this post: Senator Mike Braun: An Embarrassment To The State Of Indiana and sent it to Senator Braun. Normally when I write a Senator, it is months later before I hear from them but this time I got a reply back in just two days and it was very lengthy. I am guessing he has been hammered with negative feedback from his constituents. In the spirit of full disclosure I am publishing his letter in it's entirety below without commentary. Judge for yourself: