Supreme Court: Secret Service agents cannot be sued

Mark J. Terrill/AP

Secret Service agents are entitled to the qualified immunity of government officials and cannot be sued, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday.

The decision, as reported by The New York Times, comes in response to a lawsuit filed against Secret Service agent Virgil Reichle by environmental consultant Steven Howards, whom Reichle arrested in 2006 following Howards’ contentious but nonviolent encounter with then-Vice President Dick Cheney. Howards, who had approached Cheney in a public space in Beaver Creek, Colo., to criticize him for his handling of the war in Iraq, argued the arrest violated his First Amendment rights.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg said Secret Service agents are different from “ordinary law enforcement officials” because they are tasked with making “singularly swift, on-the-spot decisions” to guard the safety of the person they’re protecting, according to the Times. NPR had previously reported that Howards, who immediately after the encounter had lied to Secret Service agents about not touching Cheney, wasn’t arrested until 10 minutes after the incident.

The agents had asked the court for broad protection against claims of retaliatory arrest, which was not granted, according to the Associated Press.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.