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The Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday on a case that centers on the possible expansion of the Bivens Doctrine, which essentially shields federal agents from possible legal liability if the actions in question occur in the course of their work.
The case, Egbert v. Boule, will pose questions about both the First and Fourth Amendments, specifically in relation to federal officers working on immigration enforcement near the U.S.-Canadian border.
Listen to the arguments in the player above.
Robert Boule, a U.S. citizen who owns an inn along the border between Washington State and Canada, was allegedly assaulted in 2014 by Erik Egbert, a Customs and Border Patrol agent, after Egbert asked Boule about people he may have been housing at his inn. Boule said that the guests in question were in the country legally and asked Egbert to get off his property. Boule later reported Egbert to his superiors, and the Customs and Border Patrol agent then contacted the IRS, asking the agency to run a tax audit and investigation of Boule’s activities.
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Boule then filed a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that Egbert was retaliating against him in asking for the audit. The lawsuit claims Egbert was in violation of the First Amendment and used excessive force when confronting Boule at his inn, which Boule also claims violates the Fourth Amendment.
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