Will federal agents behaving badly lead the Judicial Branch to suddenly behave “goodly”?
Border Patrol agent Erik Egbert wanted to question a Turkish national staying at Robert Boule’s bed-and-breakfast in Washington state near the Canadian border. Egbert did not have a warrant, and Boule did not want his guest to be bothered, so he denied Egbert’s request.
Boule then asked Egbert to leave his property but the agent refused. Egbert then shoved Boule against a car and pushed him to the ground, injuring his shoulder.
Boule complained to Egbert’s superiors. Egbert allegedly retaliated by asking the IRS to investigate Boule, who was subsequently audited.
Robert Boule then sued Erik Egbert for violating his Fourth and First Amendment rights (Egbert v. Boule). Boule argued that Egbert violated the Fourth Amendment when he refused to leave Boule’s property and then assaulted him. He also maintained that his First Amendment rights were violated when Egbert used the IRS to punish Boule for publicly complaining about the agent’s actions.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit ruled in Boule’s favor. That decision will now be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Will the Supreme Court permit federal agents to violate the law?
On one hand, it was the Supreme Court who created the “doctrine of qualified immunity” to shield government employees from responsibility for their actions.
On the other hand, the Supreme Court created a precedent by which some federal agents could be held responsible in some cases. This ruling came in the case Bivens v. Six unknown named agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (1971).
Unfortunately, the Court has also narrowed this exception over the years. But then there’s this…
A great ruling in the 11th Circuit
The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals just ruled that two Atlanta cops are not entitled to qualified immunity from a charge of malicious prosecution. Ju’zema Goldring alleges these cops falsely accused her of jaywalking and cocaine trafficking. Get this – the cops thought the sand in her stress ball was cocaine! And the 11th Circuit agrees that they can be held liable for their incompetence!
So what are we to think?
Are we moving toward a new day, when government employees are no longer allowed to break the law with impunity? It’s likely. The first step is for us to get over the idea that nothing good ever happens. That assumption leads to crippling apathy and self-fulfilling prophecies.
It’s also wrong.
It would also be a mistake to depend only on the Judicial Branch to correct its past errors. We must also do our job as citizens to make Congress outlaw the court-created doctrine of qualified immunity.
Pass this bill!
Fortunately, there is legislation in Congress that does what we want. You can help pass this legislation by using the strategy of Option Activism and becoming one of The 300 for this bill in your district.
Talk about this with others
The media won’t cover this subject. It doesn’t fit their agenda. So you must set your own agenda, not only by joining The 300, but also by talking about this issue with your friends.
Please also consider making a contribution or starting a monthly pledge.
Reset the American agenda in the direction you want it to go!
Jim Babka, President
Agenda Setters by Downsize DC
Today’s Action: Make Congress End Qualified Immunity in case the Supreme Court fails