• Marie Miller
    Author
  • Megan Cairns
    Author
  • Anya Bidwell
    Author
  • Patrick Jaicomo
    Author
  • Kendall Morton
    Study Manager

Constitutional rights only exist if they can be enforced. But a confusing patchwork of immunity doctrines and special rules often means they cannot be. Chief among the doctrines that prevent constitutional accountability is qualified immunity, which prevents victims of government abuse from suing their abusers unless a court has previously related that the precise actions at issue were “clearly established” in their jurisdiction. As a result, what is clearly established—and therefore what rights are actually enforceable—varies from place to place. Added to qualified immunity, each state provides its own flavor of similar protections when government officials are sued under state law. If and to what extent government officials can be held accountable under state law likewise varies from state to state.

Select your state below and answer a few questions to see what law is clearly established where you live and find out whether you live somewhere on the accountability honor roll or somewhere that is failing the constitutional test. This interactive treatise also grades states and federal jurisdictions on the ease or difficulty of enforcing constitutional and civil rights in their courts, providing a state grade, a circuit grade, and a combined GPA.

Access to Justice and Accountability


The Institute for Justice provides the information on this website for informational and educational purposes only. It does not and should not be relied on as legal advice. Information on this website may not be the most up-to-date, and it does not account for the individual facts of your situation. If you have questions about your situation, we recommend contacting a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

Press Release

Check out this report's press release and contact our media team for additional information.

Press Release

New Institute for Justice Website Helps People Navigate the Maze of Qualified Immunity

  • Andrew Wimer
  • June 30, 2022

ARLINGTON, Va.—Knowledge is power. Yet, the knowledge necessary to overcome qualified immunity in a civil rights lawsuit is extremely difficult to attain, giving an advantage […]

Related Cases

Immunity and Accountability

J.T.H., et al v. Spring Cook, et al.

Investigations can be an effective tool for intimidation. Government officials across the ideological spectrum weaponize this power to punish those who speak out against them. The stories of junk investigations are legion. Los Angeles just…

In The News