According to the Courthouse News Service, the Supreme Court has further weakened the precedent that was established in the ruling Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents in 1971, which established the right to civil lawsuits of federal agents who committed constitutional violations. This ruling established the right to sue federal agents in civil court when they violated the constitution.

Justice Clarence Thomas reached the conclusion on Wednesday that “the Bivens inquiry does not invite federal courts to independently assess the costs and benefits of implying a cause of action.” Thomas’s opinion was part of the majority opinion that was issued by a vote of 6-3.

In addition to this, he stated that “a court is only faced with one question: whether there is any rational reason (even one) to think that Congress is better suited to ‘weigh the costs and benefits of allowing a damages action to proceed.'” Therefore, a court should not investigate, as the Court of Appeals did in this instance, whether Bivens relief is appropriate in view of the whole context of the ‘particular case.'”

On the other hand, the more liberal members of the court argued in their dissenting opinion that the judgment narrows the scope of the safeguards afforded by the Fourth Amendment, which shields individuals from being subjected to unconstitutional searches and seizures.

“Today’s decision does not overrule Bivens,” Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote. “It nevertheless contravenes precedent and will strip many more individuals who suffer injuries at the hands of other federal officers of an important remedy.”

The precedent set by the momentous Bivens judgement was recently undercut in 2020 when justices did not apply Bivens in the case Hernandez v. Mesa. The case that was decided on Wednesday, Egbert v. Boule, added further limitations to the precedent set by Bivens. A case in which a Border Patrol agent is accused of shooting a Mexican national who crossed the border into the United States.