Emory Law Journal


Niji Jain


When police decline to respond to reported violations of restraining orders, victims of gender-based violence and their children suffer tragic consequences. Congress enacted 42 U.S.C. § 1983 to remedy problems of this sort by lifting the shield of immunity when a state actor violates an individual¿s constitutional rights. A credible threat of liability for police officers is imperative to encourage police to act in a way that protects individuals from harm. However, the Supreme Court has substantially limited the possible § 1983-based causes of action a victim of gender-based violence can bring against a police officer. The only remaining avenue for liability is an equal protection claim. However, equal protection challenges have met such consistent rejection in the lower federal courts that many scholars believe they are not a tenable strategy for police accountability.