Victory: Unanimous Supreme Court Rules that Citizens Can Hold Federal Government Liable for Abuse by Law Enforcement OfficersSubmitted by barracuda_trader on Thu, 03/28/2013 - 14:59
March 28, 2013 | Rutherford Institute
WASHINGTON, D.C. — In its ruling in Millbrook v. United States, a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court has concluded that the U.S. government may be held liable for abuses intentionally carried out by law enforcement officers in the course of their employment. The Court’s ruling dovetails with arguments put forward by The Rutherford Institute in its amicus brief, which urged the Court to enforce the plain meaning of federal statutes allowing citizens to sue the government for injuries intentionally inflicted by law enforcement officers.
In striking down lower court rulings, the justices held that the courts had erred in dismissing a prisoner’s lawsuit alleging that three prison guards had brutally and sexually assaulted him. The lower courts justified their ruling under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), which allows individuals to sue the government for misconduct by law enforcement officials only if the injury inflicted occurs while the officers are in the course of making an arrest or seizure, or executing a search. In their amicus brief, Rutherford Institute attorneys asked the Supreme Court to protect citizens from government brutality by eliminating the restriction on government liability.
“Hopefully, the Supreme Court’s ruling in Millbrook will send a strong message to the government’s various law enforcement agencies that they need to do a better job of policing their employees—whether they’re police officers or prison guards—and holding them accountable to respecting citizens’ rights, especially while on the job,” said John W. Whitehead, president of The Rutherford Institute. “At a time when the courts are increasingly giving deference to the police and prioritizing security over civil liberties, this ruling is at least an encouraging glimmer in the gloom.”