Iqbal, al-Kidd and Pleading Past Qualified Immunity: What the Cases Mean and How They Demonstrate a Need to Eliminate the Immunity Doctrines from Constitutional Tort Law

Academic Article


  • The Supreme Court’s decisions in Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Ashcroft v. al-Kidd contain issue-framing statements indicating that a constitutional tort plaintiff is required to plead facts sufficient to establish the inapplicability of the qualified immunity defense. Yet, framing the issue in this way ignores the Court’s earlier decisions in Gomez v. Toledo and Crawford-El v. Britton and is at odds with the established law of pleading; a plaintiff is not required to anticipate an affirmative defense and negate its applicability in the complaint. These cases thus raise a number of questions—Does the Court really mean what its issue-framing statements suggest? If so, should we construe the obligation to state facts negating the applicability of qualified immunity as being limited to the context of qualified immunity? Or is the Court’s intent a more general shift in the law governing the pleading and proof of affirmative defenses?
  • Authors


    Publication Date

  • 2011
  • Published In


  • Bivens
  • Section 1983
  • civil rights
  • qualified immunity
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 38
  • Volume

  • 20