Hope v. Pelzer, 536 U.S. 730, 22 (2002)

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Cite as: 536 U. S. 730 (2002)

Thomas, J., dissenting

breaks." Supplemental App. to Pet. for Cert. 2. In addition, photographs taken of petitioner attached to the restraining bar on June 7 show him wearing a t-shirt, revealing at a minimum that petitioner was not shirtless "all day." See Second Affidavit of Larry Hope, Exhs. 3-5, Record, Doc. No. 32; id., at 5 (verifying that the photographs were "taken while [he] was on the hitching post on June 7").

Once one understands petitioner's specific allegations against respondents, the Eighth Amendment violation in this case is far from "obvious." Ante, at 738. What is "obvious," however, is that the Court's explanation of how respondents violated the Eighth Amendment is woefully incomplete. The Court merely recounts petitioner's allegations regarding the events of June 7 and concludes that "[t]he use of the hitching post under these circumstances violated the 'basic concept underlying the Eighth Amendment[,] [which] is nothing less than the dignity of man.' " Ibid. (quoting Trop v. Dulles, 356 U. S. 86, 100 (1958)). The Court, however, fails to explain how respondents McClaran and Pelzer violated the Eighth Amendment, given that they had no involvement whatsoever in affixing petitioner to the restraining bar on June 7. The Court's reasoning as applied to respondent Gates is similarly inadequate since petitioner has never alleged that Gates bore any responsibility for most of the conduct on June 7 that supposedly renders the Eighth Amendment violation "obvious." 9

9 In an effort to rehabilitate the Court's opinion, Justice Stevens argues that the specific nature of respondents' connection to the events of May 11 and June 7 falls outside the scope of the questions presented. See ante, at 746. In conducting qualified immunity analysis, however, courts do not merely ask whether, taking the plaintiff's allegations as true, the plaintiff's clearly established rights were violated. Rather, courts must consider as well whether each defendant's alleged conduct violated the plaintiff's clearly established rights. For instance, an allegation that Defendant A violated a plaintiff's clearly established rights does nothing to overcome Defendant B's assertion of qualified immunity, absent some allegation that Defendant B was responsible for Defendant A's conduct. Sim-


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