Access to Justice

RELEASE: Will the Supreme Court Sanction a Constitution-Free Zone at the Border?

“The Supreme Court shouldn’t sanction a Constitution-free zone at the border that would allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to shoot to kill without any possibility of redress.” CAC Civil Rights Director David Gans

WASHINGTON – Oral argument was held this afternoon at the Supreme Court in Hernández v. Mesa, a case that asks whether the surviving family of a Mexican teenager, shot and killed in Mexico by a U.S. Border Patrol agent who was on the U.S. side of the border, may sue the agent for damages. Constitutional Accountability Center Civil Rights Director David Gans attended today’s argument and issued the following reaction:

In an Oval Office meeting back in March, President Trump reportedly suggested that U.S. Border Patrol agents “shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down.” During today’s oral argument, Trump’s Department of Justice argued that persons killed or harmed by Border Patrol agents, even within the United States, should have no right to go to court to remedy the acts of such rogue border guards. In their view, the courthouse doors must be firmly closed against any efforts to hold Border Patrol agents accountable to the Constitution. The Supreme Court shouldn’t sanction a Constitution-free zone at the border that would allow U.S. Border Patrol agents to shoot to kill without any possibility of redress.



CAC case page in Hernández v. Mesa:

“Shoot Migrants’ Legs, Build Alligator Moat: Behind Trump’s Ideas for Border,” New York Times, Michael D. Shear and Julie Hirschfeld Davis, October 1, 2019:


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, history, and values. Visit CAC’s website at


More from Access to Justice

Access to Justice
August 29, 2019

Rutherford Institute Challenges Government Efforts to Sidestep Rule of Law, Undermine Sixth Amendment Assurance of Right to Legal Counsel

The Rutherford Institute
Pushing back against efforts to sidestep the rule of law and disregard fundamental protections for...
Access to Justice
August 23, 2019

Tribe, Ex-Gov’t Officials Argue Against Border Wall Funding

A Native American tribe, former government officials, law professors and scores of religious groups threw...
Access to Justice
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit

Federal Defenders of New York v. Federal Bureau of Prisons

In Federal Defenders of New York v. Federal Bureau of Prisons, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is considering whether the ability to sue over constitutional violations is limited by a “zone of interests” test.
Access to Justice
June 1, 2019

The Border Search Muddle

Harvard Law Review
Fourth Amendment originalism is hard. But if Fourth Amendment originalism has an easy case, the...
Access to Justice
June 7, 2019

Cross-border shooting in Nogales likely to turn on ruling in Texas case

Cronkite News
When a Border Patrol agent standing in Nogales shot and killed a teen in Mexico...
Access to Justice
May 31, 2019

OP-ED: The Supreme Court Just Made It Easier for Police to Arrest You for Filming Them

The First Amendment makes it unconstitutional for government officials to retaliate against you because they...
By: Brian R. Frazelle