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In granting review in a new case on police immunity Monday, the Supreme Court took the rare step of announcing its intention to examine whether one of its relatively recent precedents, Saucier v. Katz, “should be overruled.” The unusual announcement came in the form of an order directing the parties in the new case, Pearson v. Callahan, to brief that issue in addition to the questions presented by the case.

The 2001 decision in Saucier established a two-step test for deciding whether police deserve immunity from lawsuits claiming they violated someone’s constitutional rights. First, it must be established that the claimant’s constitutional rights were violated. If so, the next question is whether that right was clearly established — in other words, well-enough known that a reasonable officer should have known what it was.

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