• 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 it 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.

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.