One of my readers asked me specifically about something in yesterday’s sources. One of the sources mentioned filing a Bivens Action every time one of the TSA gorillas pawed through your things without a warrant. And, since this blog is Stuff BQ Knows, not stuff BQ wonders about, I went off in search of the history of a Bivens Action to let you all know just what exactly it is.
The name a Bivens Action comes from the Supreme Court case Webster Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics. It seems sometimes in the lat 60’s or so some federal agents busted into Webster Bivens home, searched his home and arrested him without a warrant. Bivens of course filed a lawsuit claiming his 4th Amendment rights had been violated.
Now eventually the case gets to the Supreme Court in 1971. They overturn lower courts who had dismissed his suit for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction (as defined by Article III section 2 of the Constitution) because the government claimed he could only file against the state for their transgression against him.
What does that all mean to you. It means that now, Federal agents who come jack booted to your door or person and violate your 4th Amendment rights can now face a Bivens Action which will result in monetary damages against said federal employees as opposed to attempting to sue the head of the agency, such as the Attorney General.