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Civil Rights – Bivens Claim – Prisons & Jails – New Context

Civil Rights – Bivens Claim – Prisons & Jails – New Context

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The plaintiff-prisoner seeks money damages under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971), based on his claims that the defendant-prison officials (1) violated his right to equal protection by racially discriminating against him and (2) deprived him of due process when he was (a) placed in administrative segregation and then (b) transferred to a different facility. The court declines to expand Bivens to encompass plaintiff’s claims, given that they arise in a new context and that Congress is better positioned to fashion remedies for such claims.
We affirm the district court’s dismissal of the case.
Bivens recognized an implied cause of action under the Fourth Amendment to sue federal officials for money damages arising from an unreasonable search and seizure. Bivens was later expanded twice: first to recognize gender discrimination in violation of the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s due process clause and second for deliberate indifference to an inmate’s serious medical needs in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
We may not recognize a Bivens claim if it arises in a new context or if there are separation-of-powers principles that counsel against judicial intrusion into a given field. Here, we are faced with both a new context for Fifth Amendment claims and special factors that lead us to reject plaintiff’s attempt to expand Bivens.
Plaintiff’s claims are brought against a new category of defendants – prison officials – operating in a different legal and factual context – prison litigation. And Congress is better suited than the courts to weigh the costs and benefits of allowing such damages actions to proceed. In fact, Congress has frequently legislated in the area of prisoner litigation but has so far declined to create an individual-capacity damages remedy for federal inmates.
Mays v. Smith (Lawyers Weekly No. 001-067-23, 16 pp.) (James Wynn, J.) No. 20-7540. Appealed from USDC at Raleigh, N.C. (Louise Flanagan, J.) Devin Redding and Lawrence Rosenberg for appellant; Marie Cepeda Mekosh, Michael Easley and Sharon Wilson for appellees; Samuel Weis and Easha Anand for amici curiae. United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit

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