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Wilkie v. Robbins

United States Supreme Court
551 U.S. 537 (2007)


Facts

Frank Robbins (plaintiff) owned a ranch. The Bureau of Land Management had negotiated an easement with the ranch’s former owner, but the bureau failed to record the easement. Robbins took the ranch free of the encumbrance. The bureau began contacting Robbins about granting an easement, but Robbins refused. Over the next few years, Robbins and the bureau engaged in a series of retaliatory actions against each other. Among other things, the bureau altered certain terms of Robbins’s special-use permits; bureau employees trespassed on Robbins’s property to conduct a survey without permission; the bureau refused to fix a damaged public road leading to Robbins’s property, causing Robbins to fix the road himself, which, in turn, resulted in the bureau fining Robbins for trespassing; and the bureau charged Robbins with two counts of impeding and interfering with a federal employee (the jury found Robbins not guilty after a 30-minute deliberation). Robbins brought suit against Charles Wilkie and other bureau employees (defendants) for intimidation and harassment, seeking a new constitutional cause of action under Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 403 U.S. 388 (1971). The district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, holding that Robbins had alternative remedies under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act, which precluded a Bivens claim. The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit reversed. On remand, the district court denied the defendants’ motion to dismiss with respect to Robbins’s Fifth Amendment claim. The court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)

Concurrence (Thomas, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Ginsburg, J.)

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