Egbert v. Boule

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Constitutional Law
  • Date Filed: June 8, 2022
  • Case #: 21–147
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: THOMAS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which ROBERTS, C. J., and ALITO, KAVANAUGH, and BARRETT, JJ., joined. GORSUCH, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part, in which BREYER and KAGAN, JJ., joined.
  • Full Text Opinion

“[I]n all but the most unusual circumstances, prescribing a cause of action is a job for Congress, not the courts”

Respondent owned a bed and breakfast on the U.S.-Canadian border, and was a regular informant for CBP and ICE about illegal border crossings. Respondent lodged a grievance with Petitioner’s supervisors following a use of force on Respondent’s property, while Petitioner investigated a foreign national, and an administrative claim pursuant to the FTCA, alleging retaliation by Petitioner following the grievance. Respondent filed a claim in Federal District Court alleging Fourth Amendment excessive use of force and First Amendment retaliation violations by Petitioner. The District Court rejected their claims, extending implied Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388 (1971) relief to Respondent’s claims; the Ninth Circuit reversed. On appeal, the Supreme Court held that a Bivens remedy does not exist in either circumstance. Creating causes of action is an inherently legislative function, with monetary and social implications ill-suited to judicial determination, and the Court should only extend Bivens in the most unusual contexts. Utilizing the two-step Bivens framework, the Fourth Amendment claim fails because Congress is better suited to create remedies for claims dealing with border and national security implications, as well as the existence of alternative, administrative remedies. The First Amendment claim also fails, despite Respondent’s arguments of parallels to previously accepted Bivens implied causes of action, as they lack substantiality under the current framework. REVERSED and REMANDED.

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