• Marie Miller
  • Megan Cairns
  • Anya Bidwell
  • Patrick Jaicomo
  • 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

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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 […]

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Immunity and Accountability


The largest ever study of qualified immunity cases, Unaccountable finds the doctrine shields a wider array of officials and conduct than commonly thought while unacceptably burdening victims of government abuse and failing at its goals.