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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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