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Baxter v. Bracey

Supreme Court of the United States

June 15, 2020, Decided

No. 18-1287.

Opinion

 The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Dissent by: THOMAS

Dissent

 The petition for a writ of certiorari is denied.

Justice Thomas, dissenting from the denial of certiorari.

Petitioner Alexander Baxter was caught in the act of burgling a house. It is undisputed that police officers released a dog to apprehend him and that the dog bit him. Petitioner alleged that he had already surrendered when the dog was released. He sought damages from two officers under Rev. Stat. §1979, 42 U. S. C. §1983, alleging excessive force and failure to intervene, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. Applying our qualified immunity precedents, the Sixth Circuit held that even if the officers’ conduct violated the Constitution, they were not liable because their conduct did not violate a clearly established right. Petitioner asked this Court to reconsider the precedents that the Sixth Circuit applied.

I have previously expressed my doubts about our qualified immunity jurisprudence. See Ziglar v. Abbasi, 582 U. S. ___, ___-___, 137 S. Ct. 1843, 198 L. Ed. 2d 290 at 323 (2017) (Thomas, J., concurring in part and concurring in judgment). Because our §1983 qualified immunity doctrine [*2]  appears to stray from the statutory text, I would grant this petition.

In the wake of the Civil War, Republicans set out to secure certain individual rights against abuse by the States. Between 1865 and 1870, Congress proposed, and the States ratified, the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments. These Amendments protect certain rights and gave Congress the power to enforce those rights against the States.

Armed with its new enforcement powers, Congress sought to respond to “the reign of terror imposed by the Klan upon black citizens and their white sympathizers in the Southern States.” Briscoe v. LaHue, 460 U. S. 325, 337, 103 S. Ct. 1108, 75 L. Ed. 2d 96 (1983). Congress passed a statute variously known as the Ku Klux Act of 1871, the Civil Rights Act of 1871, and the Enforcement Act of 1871. Section 1, now codified, as amended, at 42 U. S. C. §1983, provided that

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2020 U.S. LEXIS 3249 *

ALEXANDER L. BAXTER v. BRAD BRACEY, ET AL.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [*1] ON PETITION FOR WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT

Baxter v. Bracey, 751 Fed. Appx. 869, 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 31681 (6th Cir. Tenn., Nov. 8, 2018)

CORE TERMS

good-faith