LEGAL: U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Fourth Amendment Right to Hold Police Accountable for Malicious Prosecutions, Arrests Without Probable Cause

Washington, D.C. —In a 6-3 ruling in Thompson v. Clark, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that individuals have a Fourth Amendment right to hold police accountable for maliciously instituting charges and arrests without probable cause.

The court’s ruling allows a lawsuit to proceed against police officers who, after arriving at Larry Thompson’s home late one night and being refused entry without a warrant, forced their way into the home and claimed that Thompson had resisted arrest, leading Thompson to be jailed and charged with two crimes. Although the charges were later dropped, Thompson’s attempts to challenge the officers’ malicious actions were stymied by a so-called “innocence” rule that gives prosecutors the power to insulate police from accountability for constitutional violations simply by dropping unfounded charges before they go to trial.

The Rutherford Institute joined with the ACLU, NYCLU, and Cato Institute in an amicus brief challenging the “innocence” rule loophole that serves to shield police from being held liable for misconduct.

“At a time when the courts routinely shield police from accountability for misconduct, this ruling is at least an encouraging glimmer in the gloom,” said constitutional attorney John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute and author of Battlefield America: The War on the American People, in press release, “For too long, Americans have been treated as if they have no rights at all when it comes to encounters with police. This is an overdue reminder that freedom is not secondary to security, and the rights of the citizenry are no less important than the authority of the government.”

Read more at The Rutherford Institute