Average Joe SCOTUS: Brownback v. King

James King, some rando 26-year-old college student was walking about town when two FBI agents accosted him, thinking he was a home invasion suspect, because he matched a basic description. Before you assume wrongly, he wasn’t black.

Initially, he complied when he spotted their badges, but when one of them pulled his wallet out of his pocket, he thought he was being mugged, and ran. So they tackled him and beat the fuck out of him.

Once he was out of the hospital, he was arrested for resisting arrest, which is fucking crazy, since officers had no cause to arrest him. The court agreed, and he was dismissed without any charges.

One of the issues at play here, is the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). This law was passed in 1946 as a way of basically saying, if government agents wrong you, you can sue government, as opposed to the agents, for the bad things they did in the government’s name. However, there’s an older landmark case,  Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1971 that allows people to sue federal officials for violating any constitutional rights. It also allows people to sue the federal government in federal court if they violated state laws.

Within the FTCA, is a “judgement bar” which basically says, if you sued once for this shit, and a judgement was issued, you can’t sue again elsewhere.

The federal officers are barred from being sued under the controversial principle of qualified immunity, unless certain qualifications are met.

A district court felt King didn’t meet those qualifiers for an FTCA claim, determining he wasn’t a victim under any Michigan law, and dismissed his case. They also dismissed his Bivens claim, citing qualified immunity for the officers.

King, realizing that his FTCA claim didn’t meet the burden he needed to make that claim, decided only to pursue the Bivens claim. But then the court said because his FTCA claim was dismissed, that the judgment bar applied, and therefore he couldn’t sue under the Bivens claim.

King was like, “Are you fucking serious right now?” So he took his case to the 6th circuit who sided with King, and allowed him to proceed suing these FBI dipshits.

So the FBI dipshits are suing in SCOTUS to try to say the judgement bar DOES apply since his FTCA claim was dismissed. King says the judgement bar only applies to actions and judgements, not dismissals on jurisdictional grounds.

In a unanimous decision, SCOTUS felt King was to be the loser, here. The stated that the bar does in fact get triggered by a dismissal.

You can read about the case in depth here at Oyez or here at SCOTUS Blog

One thought on “Average Joe SCOTUS: Brownback v. King”

  1. The totally fucked thing about this case is, despite Congress installing multiple guardrails elsewhere in the FTCA to prevent dismissals from triggering the judgement bar, and all previous SCOTUS decisions saying nothing that contradicts this, the Supreme Court went right through every fucking one! Result is a new judge-made law that says that the judgement in an action only pursuant to Section 1346(b) shall be a complete bar to suing the employee based on the same shit.

    I put most of the blame on King’s attorney, who didn’t appeal his FTCA claim in the first place, for NOT! ARGUING! THE! LANGUAGE! OF! THE! ACT! ITSELF!!!

    But at least J. Sonya Sotomayor saved the day and got Thomas to grudgingly agree that preclusion of same-lawsuit claims should be properly looked at by the appeals court so it can come back for a nationwide ruling some 4 years later. And King STILL might not get to sue. Fuck me! 😣😫😡

Drop some genius on me here.

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