Castle Rock v Gonzalez - The Police have no legal duty to protect you

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You’ve probably heard in the wake of Uvalde that cops have no legal duty to protect you. The case establishing that rule, though, is even worse than you think. This is a thread on the 2005 SCOTUS case of Castle Rock v. Gonzales.

Jessica Gonzales had an order of protection against her ex, a man with a history of violence against her and who had threatened to kill her and her three children. That order of protection, by the way, included the three kids.

The ex proceeds to kidnap the three kids from outside Gonzales’ home, so she called the police - who literally told her to call back later after 10 pm. But wait! It gets worse.

The police refused to do anything to help the kids even after the ex called to taunt her about having the kids illegally, and when Gonzales called back after 10:00 pm, she was told again to call back later.

Eventually, she physically went to the police station to file a report - where the officers refused to take her report and instead went to dinner. While she was there, the ex showed up to kill her, with the dead bodies of the three children he’d already murdered in his truck.

Eventually, she physically went to the police station to file a report - where the officers refused to take her report and instead went to dinner. While she was there, the ex showed up to kill her, with the dead bodies of the three children he’d already murdered in his truck.

Antonin “I’m a textualist” Scalia wrote the 7-2 majority SCOTUS opinion, saying that the plain language of the statute was irrelevant in light of “long-standing police tradition”. I’m serious.

“We do not believe that these provisions of Colorado law truly made enforcement of restraining orders mandatory. A well established tradition of police discrection has long coexisted with apparently mandatory arrest statutes.”

Then Scalia said that this was because if you could sue the cops for not following laws or legal duties, it would create a scheme where victims of crimes are paid money by the state, which he said was against the intent of the Fourteenth Amendment.

That’s right - Antonin “legislative intent and tradition are irrelevant” Scalia wrote that the cops have no legal duties no matter what the plain language of a statute is because of legislative intent and tradition. But it gets worse.

In his concurrence, Justice Souter said that there is no substantive right to not be harmed by the police, because all police actions are only procedural in nature. In other words, he’s saying that ALL police actions are like court rules and create no independent remedies.

This is the origin of the “no duty to protect you” doctrine. Police, according to SCOTUS, have complete and unfettered discretion to decide whether or not to follow laws requiring them to act even when those laws are mandatory on their face.

And for that you can thank Antonin Scalia’s insistence that police duties are governed by tradition from when they were slave patrols, and not any actual statute or law.

(For those mentioning DeShaney - the key difference is that in Castle Rock, there was an actual statute passed by the Colorado legislature that required cops to act, and SCOTUS said “actually it doesn’t mean what it says.”)

I have no legal duty to RAT

Like Row v Wade… sometimes the supreme got it wrong in the past!

The police only have the duty to protect and serve the state, not its people. Some cops are great but there are also a lot of bad ones!

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ahhh yes row v wade, the famous case about those guys trying to cross a river…

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speaking of roe v wade, that decision and the ny handgun law decision are coming out today or thursday

i would suspect they will both come out on thursday but who knows

I like how people say this like its some huge revelation. Incidentally if the right is so concerned they could pass legislation cteating that right

in the castle rock case colorado did have laws that required police to act, its one of the most interesting aspects of the case.

Welp gonna go buy some more guns then.

there were more cases than just this one where the scotus ruled the cops have no duty to protect anyone

i dont think anyone claimed there were no other related cases, i mean the post references deshaney for starters…