(TruthandLiberty.com) – The Supreme Court will hear a case that could drastically change the rules concerning federal law enforcement officers who violate the United States Constitution. Under current precedent, officers and agents face the threat of civil suits from the public at large if someone accuses them of violating their rights. The case coming before the Court, Egbert v. Boule, could change the rules.
What the Case Is All About
Robert Boule admits to using his bed and breakfast along the Canadian border in Washington state to aid and abet smugglers entering the northern country illegally. The Canadian government attempted prosecution but lost on their own constitutional grounds, although smuggling and illegal border crossing aren’t what this case is all about.
Boule says a US border patrol agent, Eric Egbert, assaulted him. Egbert allegedly violated Boule’s rights when he entered the resident’s property without a warrant, pushed Egbert to the ground and collected evidence. The act violated the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees against illegal search and seizure. Boule claims Border Patrol violated his First Amendment right to free speech when the agency allegedly targeted him for retribution by triggering an IRS audit after Boule brought the matter to Egbert’s supervisor.
What the Court Is Considering
The facts of the case itself aren’t in dispute. The High Court must consider whether or not to rewrite the current precedent set in 1971 under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. In that case, the Court ruled a law enforcement officer who violates the Constitution is subject to the same laws — and lawsuits — as anyone else.
That precedent has been under fire before, and Justices have come close to overturning it. Now, the Court is more Conservative, on balance, than it’s been in decades. Supreme Court Justice Alito stated law enforcement officers deserve the security to do their jobs without fear of repercussions from lawsuits hitting them financially.
As soon as a few months after the original Bivens ruling, Conservative Justices appointed by former President Richard Nixon whittled away at the precedent, using the facts of individual cases to determine if violations had occurred. Boule v. Egbert could potentially reverse the Bivens ruling, making law enforcement officers exempt from civil suits.
If Liberals truly believe in the concept of “accountability,” which they apply to our border patrol agents and other officers, don’t they also need to apply the concept to the people who actually commit the crimes?
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