SCOTUSBlog: Court constricts, even if it does not quite eliminate, damages actions under Bivens by Howard M. Wasserman:
Rejecting Fourth Amendment excessive-force and First Amendment retaliation damages claims against a U.S. Border Patrol agent by a U.S. citizen for an incident on his property near the U.S.-Canada border, the Supreme Court in Egbert v. Boule narrowed, but did not eliminate, private civil damages actions for constitutional violations by federal officials under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote for a five-justice majority; Justice Neil Gorsuch concurred in the judgment; Justice Sonia Sotomayor concurred in the judgment in part and dissented in part for Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan.
Respondent Robert Boule is a U.S. citizen who owns and runs the Smuggler’s Inn, a bed-and-breakfast abutting the Canadian border in Blaine, Washington; drives a car with a SMUGLER license plate; and worked as a confidential informant for the Customs and Border Patrol. Petitioner Erik Egbert, a Border Patrol agent, attempted to speak with a guest, newly arrived from Turkey via New York, outside the inn. When Boule asked Egbert to leave his property and attempted to intervene, Egbert shoved him to the ground; when Boule complained to Egbert’s superiors, Egbert allegedly contacted the Internal Revenue Service and state agencies, resulting in a tax audit and investigations of Boule’s activities.