Supreme Court rules people can sue government agents for damages

I wonder if the “damages” have to be directly or could they be INDIRECTLY for the federal officer(s) to be found guilty. Let’s looks at a hypothetical situation.  Say the DEA raids a practitioner’s office… a practitioner who specializes in high acuity pts…  each dealing with very severe incurable painful health issues. All are ultra fast metabolizers, dealing with very painful diseases like sickle cell, CRPS, adhesive arachnoiditis for starters.

Typical scenario, DEA agents show up at the practitioner’s office and confiscate all their pts’ medical records, may get the practitioner to surrender his/her DEA license, no charges filed… BUT… the DEA refuses to return the practitioner’s pts medical records – or copies of the pts’ medical records, to the practitioner or to the pts.  Basically, the pts have no records of their health issues and no clinical records of how their health issues were treated… or how their health conditions improved or deteriorated over the years.

Imagine Tom Frieden who was the head of the CDC June 8, 2009 – January 20, 2017.. Did he exceed the statutory authority of the CDC by putting together a supposedly “secret committee” to come up with the infamous CDC opiate dosing guidelines and omitted a public comment period and assigned seats on the committee that was known to have a anti-opiate agenda and the committee used studies that were mostly designated as having a “poor quality” of data to come to the individual studies’ conclusions.

One can only guess the untold millions of pts that have had their health – or life itself – compromised because of the actions of Frieden and the committee members.  Once those guidelines were published how many in the DEA, VA, insurance/PBM companies and large healthcare facilities adopted these guidelines and a few years later the CDC itself has stated that that guidelines were misapplied.

Supreme Court rules people can sue government agents for damages

The Supreme Court has ruled unanimously that individuals may personally seek damages from a federal officer who violates their civil rights and causes harm.

The case centered on FBI officials putting three Muslims on the no-fly list after they “refused to cooperate with the FBI by spying on their own communities.”

According to the Institute for Justice, which submitted arguments in the case, because of their refusal to spy, “these individuals were placed on the No-Fly List, which caused significant hardship, such as the inability to travel to visit family or for work.”

They sued, and now the Supreme Court has ruled the federal officials responsible could be liable for damages.

“We first have to determine if injured parties can sue government officials in their personal capacities. [The Religious Freedom Restoration Act]’s text provides a clear answer: They can. Persons may sue and obtain relief ‘against a government,’ which is defined to include ‘a branch, department, agency, instrumentality, and official (or other person acting under color of law) of the United States,” the opinion said.

New Justice Amy Coney Barrett did not participate in the ruling, but it was decided unanimously by the other eight.

Justice Clarence Thomas authored the opinion.

“Not surprisingly, in the lawsuit against the FBI agents, the government argued that the words ‘appropriate relief’ do not include damages,” the Institute for Justice said. “According to the government, damages might be an appropriate remedy against private actors, but damages should not be allowed if the person who violated your rights happens to work for the government.”

Its friend-of-the-court brief argued damages against government officials are the historical cornerstone of government accountability. It contended damages are often the only way to vindicate constitutional rights and that none of the government’s policy justifications against damages have a basis in reality.

That essentially was the ruling of the court.

“In the context of suits against government officials, damages have long been awarded as appropriate relief,” the ruling said, including local, state and federal officials in the decision.

The court pointed out damages are often the only remedy available.

“The court today has provided its full-throated endorsement of damages as a necessary and historic mechanism for constitutional accountability,” noted Scott Bullock, IJ’s president and general counsel. “In doing so, the court also reiterated its support for the foundational principles of this country, such as that damages can be awarded to check the government’s power and that it is Congress’ job to engage in policy making. The court’s job is to interpret the law, not to do policy.”

The plaintiffs were Muhammad Tanvir, Jameel Algibhah and Naveed Shinwari. They alleged the FBI put them on a No-Fly List for refusing to act as informants against their religious communities.

They lost money, wasted airline tickets and lost income from job opportunities.

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