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constitutional torts, Bivens, individual rights

Subject Categories

Constitutional Law | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Law | Legal History | Legal Remedies | Litigation


In Bivens v. Six Unknown-Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the Supreme Court recognized the right of an individual to sue federal government officials for a violation of constitutional rights. Drawing on interviews with some of the participants, including Webster Bivens himself and one of the agents who conducted the search, this chapter in the forthcoming book Federal Courts' Stories describes the events that led to the litigation and the complex array of factors that informed the Court's approach to the case. After placing the Bivens decision in context, the chapter evaluates the competing narratives that have grown up around the famous decision.