SCOTUS Has Made It Practically Impossible To Sue a Rights-Violating Federal Officer

Recent Supreme Court rulings have rendered it virtually impossible to sue federal officers for alleged constitutional rights violations. This case could be a way for the Court to either reverse or continue this unfortunate trend.

This is the case Boule v. Egbert. Robert Boule runs a bed-and breakfast located in Washington near the Canadian border. Erik Egbert from the Border Patrol wanted to speak with Boule about his immigration status. He was a Turkish citizen. Boule requested that Egbert leave his property. Egbert allegedly then shoved Boule into a vehicle and drove him down, injuring his shoulder. Boule then complained to Egbert and the agent responded by asking for an investigation from the IRS. Boule was investigated.

Boule brought suit against the federal court. Bivens against Six Unknown Named Federal Bureau of Narcotics Agents(1971), that stated federal officials could be civilly held liable for violations of constitutional rights. Boule was disappointed to learn that the Court’s jurisdiction has been progressively narrowed. BivensTo the point that it is practically impossible to override.

Ziglar v. AbbasiSCOTUS stated that if a Bivens claim arises in a “new context”—meaning “the case is different in a meaningful way from previous Bivens cases decided by this Court”—then the presiding judge must search for any “special factors counselling hesitation.” A federal officer can be sued for treble damages if such factors are found. If we are unable to apply, it is best that we pause. Bivens in a new context or to a new class of defendants,” the Court emphasized in Hernandez v. Mesa (2020), “we reject the request.”

Boule sued Egbert because he violated his rights under both the Fourth Amendment (for not leaving Boule’s property, and then using force against Boule), and the First Amendment for retaliating against Boule’s legal speech condemning the actions of the agent. Boule won the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit. It ruled that no one should hesitate to let this happen. BivensClaim proceed cannot be overruled by “compelling interests” in favour of the protection of citizens United States from illegal activities by federal agents. This 9th Circuit decision will be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Remarkable hostility by the High Court to any attempt at recognition BivensBoule is not likely to be pleased with the claims. It is not good news for anybody who wants to see rogue federal officials held civilly responsible. The Supreme Court is destroying the rule of law, as Judge Don Willett of U.S. Court of Appeals 5th Circuit pointed out in a related case this year. BivensFederal officials can operate in an area akin to a Constitution free zone if they are found guilty of unconstitutional acts.