Bergman Memorial Lecture Featuring Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents: Judicial Engagement and Law Enforcement Accountability

Bergman Memorial Lecture Featuring Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents: Judicial Engagement and Law Enforcement Accountability

Date and Time

  • Wednesday, March 3, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.


Via Zoom

5998 Alcala Park San Diego, CA 92110




50th Anniversary of Bivens

USD School of Law is pleased to present a panel discussion featuring Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents. This event is open to the public, USD faculty/administrators, and all undergraduate, graduate, and law students.

Fifty years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents, recognizing an implied damages remedy for federal officials’ Constitutional violations, despite the absence of a federal statute authorizing such a remedy.  The Court observed that when a federal officer wields federal power, “there is no safety for the citizen, except in the protection of the judicial tribunals, for rights which have been invaded by the officers of the government, professing to act in its name.  There remains to him but the alternative of resistance, which may amount to crime.”

In the years following Bivens, federal courts recognized Bivens claims for violations of numerous Constitutional rights, and in multiple factual contexts, often describing Bivens as the federal counterpart to 42 U.S.C. Section 1983 claims. 

Over the past decade, however, the Supreme Court has substantially limited Bivens’ reach, not only through the qualified immunity doctrine, but also through pleading standards and other jurisprudential concepts.  This narrowing of Bivens’ availability as a remedy for police misconduct has coincided with Americans’ sharpened focus on such misconduct, widespread protests against law enforcement abuses, and calls to reform policing in America. 

  • Moderator & Panelists


    Julia Yoo
    President, National Police Accountability Project
    Partner, Iredale & Yoo, APC


    Michael R. Marrinan '76 (BA), '79 (JD)
    Civil Rights Attorney

  • MCLE: Materials & Suggested Readings

    USD School of Law is a State Bar of California-approved provider of MCLE credit and certifies that this activity is approved for 1 hour of general credit.

    In November 1965, federal narcotics agents arrested Webster Bivens in his apartment, conducting drug searches without a warrant. In Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, now 50 years ago, the Supreme Court recognized a Fourth Amendment cause of action against the federal officials who violated Bivens’ constitutional rights.  In subsequent cases, the Court went on to expand the Bivens right of action in the Fifth Amendment and Eighth Amendment contexts. Since then, however, the Supreme Court has been less likely to recognize Bivens claims. Most recently, for example, in Hernandez v. Mesa (2020), the Court declined to recognize a Bivens cause of action in a case involving a cross-border shooting by a federal border patrol officer.

    Understanding Bivens

    Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971)

    Oral Argument (January 12, 1971) 


    James E. Pfander, The Story of Bivens v. Six Unknown Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, in Federal Courts Stories, Vicki C. Jackson & Judith Resnick, eds. (2010)

    LRC Internet KF8719 .F429 2010 ONLINE (USD Law users only)

    Bivens Today


    Ziglar v. Abbasi, 582 U.S. ___ (2017) – Supreme Court declines to recognize Bivens claim by illegal aliens held in custody by federal officials

    Hernández v. Mesa, 589 U.S. ____ (2020) – Supreme Court declines to recognize a Bivens cause of action in a cross-border shooting


    Stephen I. Vladeck, The Disingenuous Demise and Death of Bivens, 2020 Cato S. Ct. Rev. 263 (2020), 

    Cassandra Robertson, SCOTUS Sharply Limits Bivens Claims—and Hints at Further Retrenchment, April 14, 2020, 

    Bivens Claims—Hernandez v. Mesa, 134 Harv. L. Rev. 550 (2020)

    James E. Pfander & David Baltmanis, Rethinking Bivens: Legitimacy and Constitutional Adjudication, 98 Georgetown L. J. 117 (2009)

  • Bergman Memorial Lecture on Women, Children and Human Rights

    The Jane Ellen Bergman Memorial Lecture Series on Women, Children and Human Rights is the result of a gift from Dr. Barbara Yates, a longtime professor at the University of Illinois and a friend of the late Bergman. According to Dr. Yates, Bergman was “an ordinary citizen who chose to devote her professional life to public service. As a nursing administrator, public health educator, and family therapist, she developed an abiding interest in the human rights of common people, especially the plight of women and children, in a rapidly changing world.” This series is a lasting tribute to Bergman and an opportunity for USD students, faculty/administrators, and community members to hear distinguished lecturers discuss issues concerning women, children, and human rights.

  • Thank You to Our Partners



    USD Student Organizations

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    Community Organizations

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This event is open to the public

Post Contact

Law Alumni Relations
(619) 260-4692