CIVIL RIGHTS-BIVENS ACTION-BORDER PATROL AGENTS
Egbert v. Boule, 2022 U.S. LEXIS 2829 (June 8, 2022) (Thomas, J.) In Bivens v. Six Unknown Fed. Narcotics Agents, 403 U. S. 388, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619 (1971), this Court authorized a damages action against federal officials for alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment. Over the past 42 years, however, we have declined 11 times to imply a similar cause of action for other alleged constitutional violations. See Chappell v. Wallace, 462 U. S. 296, 103 S. Ct. 2362, 76 L. Ed. 2d 586 (1983); Bush v. Lucas, 462 U. S. 367, 103 S. Ct. 2404, 76 L. Ed. 2d 648 (1983); United States v. Stanley, 483 U. S. 669, 107 S. Ct. 3054, 97 L. Ed. 2d 550 (1987); Schweiker v. Chilicky, 487 U. S. 412, 108 S. Ct. 2460, 101 L. Ed. 2d 370 (1988); FDIC v. Meyer, 510 U. S. 471, 114 S. Ct. 996, 127 L. Ed. 2d 308 (1994); Correctional Services Corp. v. Malesko, 534 U. S. 61, 122 S. Ct. 515, 151 L. Ed. 2d 456 (2001); Wilkie v. Robbins, 551 U. S. 537, 127 S. Ct. 2588, 168 L. Ed. 2d 389 (2007); Hui v. Castaneda, 559 U. S. 799, 130 S. Ct. 1845, 176 L. Ed. 2d 703 (2010); Minneci v. Pollard, 565 U. S. 118, 132 S. Ct. 617, 181 L. Ed. 2d 606 (2012); Ziglar v. Abbasi, 582 U. S. ___, 137 S. Ct. 1843, 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 (2017); Hernández v. Mesa, 589 U. S. ___, 140 S. Ct. 735, 206 L. Ed. 2d 29 (2020). Nevertheless, the Court of Appeals permitted not one, but two constitutional damages actions to proceed against a U. S. Border Patrol agent: a Fourth Amendment excessive force claim and a First Amendment retaliation claim. Because our cases have made clear that, in all but the most unusual circumstances, prescribing a cause of action is a job for Congress, not the courts, we reverse. In January 2017, Boule sued Agent Egbert in his individual capacity in Federal District Court, alleging a Fourth Amendment violation for excessive use of force and a First Amendment violation for unlawful retaliation. Boule invoked Bivens and asked the District Court to recognize a damages action for each alleged constitutional violation. The District Court declined to extend a Bivens remedy to Boule’s claims and entered judgment for Agent Egbert. The Court of Appeals reversed. See 998 F. 3d 370, 385 (CA9 2021). Twelve judges dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc. See id., at 373 (Bumatay, J., dissenting); id., at 384 (Owens, J., dissenting); ibid. (Bress, J., dissenting). We granted certiorari. 595 U. S. ___, 142 S. Ct. 457, 211 L. Ed. 2d 278 (2021). In Bivens, the Court held that it had authority to create “a cause of action under the Fourth Amendment” against federal agents who allegedly manacled the plaintiff and threatened his family while arresting him for narcotics violations. 403 U. S., at 397, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619. Although “the Fourth Amendment does not in so many words provide for its enforcement by an award of money damages,” id., at 396, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619, the Court “held that it could authorize a remedy under general principles of federal jurisdiction,” Ziglar, 582 U. S., at ___, 137 S. Ct. 1843, 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 (slip op., at 7) (citing Bivens, 403 U. S., at 392, 91 S. Ct. 1999, 29 L. Ed. 2d 619). Over the following decade, the Court twice again fashioned new causes of action under the Constitution—first, for a former congressional staffer’s Fifth Amendment sex-discrimination claim, see Davis v. Passman, 442 U. S. 228, 99 S. Ct. 2264, 60 L. Ed. 2d 846 (1979); and second, for a federal prisoner’s inadequate-care claim under the Eighth Amendment, see Carlson v. Green, 446 U. S. 14, 100 S. Ct. 1468, 64 L. Ed. 2d 15 (1980). To inform a court’s analysis of a proposed Bivens claim, our cases have framed the inquiry as proceeding in two steps. See Hernández, 589 U. S., at ___, 140 S. Ct. 735, 206 L. Ed. 2d 29 (slip op., at 7). First, we ask whether the case presents “a new Bivens context”— i.e., is it “meaningful[ly]” different from the three cases in which the Court has implied a damages action. Ziglar, 582 U. S., at ___, 137 S. Ct. 1843, 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 (slip op., at 16). Second, if a claim arises in a new context, a Bivens remedy is unavailable if there are “special factors” indicating that the Judiciary is at least arguably less equipped than Congress to “weigh the costs and benefits of allowing a damages action to proceed.” Ziglar, 582 U. S., at ___, 137 S. Ct. 1843, 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 (slip op., at 12) (internal quotation marks omitted). If there is even a single “reason to pause before applying Bivens in a new context,” a court may not recognize a Bivens remedy. Hernández, 589 U. S., at ___, 140 S. Ct. 735, 206 L. Ed. 2d 29 (slip op., at 7). Justice Thomas says the court should also look at whether there is any reason to let Congress create a damage remedy and that the courts may not fashion a Bivens remedy if Congress already has provided one or an alternative structural remedy. The court found there was an alternative remedy and that the First Amendment does not provide a Bivens claim. The court goes on to say that if we were called upon to decide Bivens today, we would decline to discover any implied causes of action in the Constitution. This case does not reconsider Bivens itself. Gorsuch concurs in the judgment. Dissent is by Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan.