Access to Justice

RELEASE: “Fourth Amendment Free Zone”? CAC Reacts to Oral Argument in Egbert v. Boule

WASHINGTON – Following oral argument at the Supreme Court this morning in Egbert v. Boule, a case in which the Court is considering whether a U.S. Border Patrol agent can be sued for damages for assaulting an individual on U.S. soil and retaliating against him in violation of the First and Fourth Amendments, Constitutional Accountability Center Civil Rights Director David Gans issued the following reaction:

“We don’t have a Fourth Amendment free zone at the border,” as Chief Justice John Roberts declared during this morning’s argument. Yet a number of the Court’s conservative justices expressed hostility toward recognizing the right of individuals to sue a border guard for using excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment, suggesting that claims under Bivens should be disfavored. If the Court holds that federal border guards cannot be sued, even for flagrant constitutional violations, it will allow one of the world’s largest law enforcement forces to violate constitutionally guaranteed rights with impunity. That would strike a severe blow to constitutional accountability and the rule of law.

The Constitution was written, drafted, and ratified against a legal backdrop that recognized that officers could be sued in a court of law for violating individual rights. If the Court follows the Constitution’s text and history, it should recognize that federal law enforcement officers, including border control guards, can be held accountable in court for violating constitutionally guaranteed rights.

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Resources:

CAC case page in Egbert v. Boule: https://www.theusconstitution.org/litigation/egbert-v-boule/

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Constitutional Accountability Center is a think tank, public interest law firm, and action center dedicated to fulfilling the progressive promise of the Constitution’s text and history. Visit CAC’s website at www.theusconstitution.org.

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