Supreme Court Section 1983 Decisions: (October 2001 Term)
20 Pages Posted: 9 May 2014
Date Written: 2002
The federal Constitution creates very significant individual rights, but is conspicuously quite silent on the question of specific remedies to enforce those rights. And yet, individual constitutional rights work like any other rights; these rights are not meaningful unless they have enforcement mechanisms. Congress understood this early on. Back in 1871, just three years after the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, Congress enacted what is now 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. Section 1983 is the vehicle that authorizes individuals to assert their constitutional rights claims against state and local governments.
In modern day, we see a very wide range of constitutional claims asserted under Section 1983. Just about any possible constitutional claim may be the subject of a Section 1983 action. The author discusses the United States Supreme Court opinions involving Section 1983 that were rendered during the October 2001 Term, which involved the following: Takings Clause cases; judicial access matters; the exhaustion requirement of the Prisoner Litigation Reform Act; qualified immunity issues; enforcement of federal statutes under Section 1983; and Bivens claims against federal officials. The author also analyzes the cases in the context of their broader place in constitutional law doctrine.
Keywords: U.S. Supreme Court, Section 1983 litigation, Takings Clause, judicial access, exhaustion requirement, Prisoner Litigation Reform Act, qualified immunity, enforcement of federal statutes, Bivens claims
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