Saucier v. Katz

Facts of the Case

Respondent Katz, president of respondent In Defense of Animals, filed a suit pursuant to

Question

Is the reasonableness inquiry into claims of qualified immunity by a police officer accused of using excessive force in an arrest the same as the reasonableness inquiry on the merits of the excessive-force claim?

CONCLUSION

No. In an opinion delivered by Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, the Court held that the ruling on qualified immunity requires an analysis not susceptible of fusion with the question whether unreasonable force was used in making the arrest. The approach the Court of Appeals adopted — to deny summary judgment any time a material issue of fact remains on the excessive force claim — could undermine the goal of qualified immunity to ‘avoid excessive disruption of government and permit the resolution of many insubstantial claims on summary judgment,’ wrote Justice Kennedy. The majority then concluded that the military policeman was entitled to qualified immunity.

Case Information

  • Citation: 533 US 194 (2001)
  • Argued: Mar 20, 2001
  • Decided Jun 18, 2001