Sometimes what the Supreme Court does not say is as important as the opinions it releases.
And according to a report from the Institute for Justice, what the justices declined to speak about is a problem for Americans.
The organization reported this week the court had been holding two cases the institute brought for months now, and finally announced it would not even hear the disputes.
The IJ said, “The first appeal sought to overturn an 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that granted immunity to a federally deputized St. Paul, Minnesota, police officer whose well-documented lies and deception cost Hamdi Mohamud—who was a teenage Somali refugee—two years of her life unjustly spent behind bars.”
And, the IJ added, “The second IJ appeal, filed on behalf of Kevin Byrd, sought to reverse a 5th Circuit decision that also granted immunity to an officer with a federal badge—a Department of Homeland Security agent who tried to kill Kevin to prevent him from asking questions about the involvement of the agent’s son in a drunken car crash the night before. After seeing a video of the incident, officers released Kevin and arrested the agent.”
The institute report just days earlier, the court said in Egbert v. Boule that federal police in immigration-related work cannot be sued for violating the Constitution.
Now, the report said, “the court has now signaled that all federal police are above the law.”
“It’s hard to overstate the damage done to federal police accountability by the Supreme Court’s decisions this month,” said IJ Attorney Patrick Jaicomo in a statement posted online. “At a time when accountability is so badly needed and immunity has been so thoroughly repudiated, this is a very discouraging move in the wrong direction.”
The appearance, following the Egbert decision and the rejection of IJ’s two cases, is that “federal police are now above the law. They cannot be sued, regardless of how egregiously they violate the Constitution and their oaths to uphold and defend it.”
“Hamdi, Kevin, and everyone else whose rights have been and will be violated by federal police deserve better than this,” said IJ attorney Anya Bidwell. “This country’s founding principles included the common-sense idea that courts exist to decide legal questions and provide remedies when rights are violated. Sadly, the court no longer seems to credit that principle.”
IJ President Scott Bullock said his organization will continue to regain “accountability” for such cases.
“We will continue this quest for justice in the courts, legislatures and in the court of public opinion nationwide until this constitutional wrong is made right,” he said.
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