vide an otherwise nonexistent cause of action against individual officers alleged to have acted unconstitutionally, e. g., Carlson v. Green, 446 U. S. 14, and to provide a cause of action for a plaintiff who lacked any alternative remedy for harms caused by an individual officer's unconstitutional conduct, e. g., Davis v. Passman, 442 U. S. 228, 245. Where such circumstances are not present, the Court has consistently rejected invitations to extend Bivens, often for reasons that foreclose its extension here. See, e. g., Bush v. Lucas, 462 U. S. 367. Bivens' purpose is to deter individual federal officers, not the agency, from committing constitutional violations. Meyer made clear, inter alia, that the threat of suit against an individual's employer was not the kind of deterrence contemplated by Bivens. 510 U. S., at 485. This case is, in every meaningful sense, the same. For if a corporate defendant is available for suit, claimants will focus their collection efforts on it, and not the individual directly responsible for the alleged injury. On Meyer's logic, inferring a constitutional tort remedy against a private entity like CSC is therefore foreclosed. Respondent's claim that requiring private corporations acting under color of federal law to pay for the constitutional harms they commit is the best way to discourage future harms has no relevance to Bivens, which is concerned solely with deterring individual officers' unconstitutional acts. There is no reason here to consider extending Bivens beyond its core premise. To begin with, no federal prisoners enjoy respondent's contemplated remedy. If such a prisoner in a BOP facility alleges a constitutional deprivation, his only remedy lies against the offending individual officer. Whether it makes sense to impose asymmetrical liability costs on private prison facilities alone is a question for Congress to decide. Nor is this a situation in which claimants in respondent's shoes lack effective remedies. It was conceded at oral argument that alternative remedies are at least as great, and in many respects greater, than anything that could be had under Bivens. For example, federal prisoners in private facilities enjoy a parallel tort remedy that is unavailable to prisoners housed in government facilities. Inmates in respondent's position also have full access to remedial mechanisms established by the BOP, including suits in federal court for injunctive relief—long recognized as the proper means for preventing entities from acting unconstitutionally—and grievances filed through the BOP's Administrative Remedy Program. Pp. 66-74.
229 F. 3d 374, reversed.
Rehnquist, C. J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which O'Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas, JJ., joined. Scalia, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Thomas, J., joined, post, p. 75. Stevens, J.,Page: Index Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 Next
Last modified: October 4, 2007