Forrester v. White

LOCATION:Federal Bureau of Prisons

DOCKET NO.: 86-761
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1987-1988)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit

CITATION: 484 US 219 (1988)
ARGUED: Nov 02, 1987
DECIDED: Jan 12, 1988

Mary Anne Sedey – on behalf of the Petitioner
Rosalyn B. Kaplan – on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Forrester v. White

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – November 02, 1987 in Forrester v. White

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 12, 1988 in Forrester v. White

William H. Rehnquist:

The opinion of the Court in No. 86-761, Forrester against White will be announced by Justice O’Connor.

Sandra Day O’Connor:

This case comes to us on certiorari to the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

In this case, an Illinois State Court Judge exercised his authority under state law to demote and then discharge a probation officer working under his supervision.

The probation officer filed a federal lawsuit for damages under Section 1983 and the Fourteenth Amendment, alleging that she had been demoted and discharge on account of her sex.

The Federal District Court granted summary judgment to the defendant judge on the ground that he was entitled to absolute immunity for his actions.

A divided panel of the Court of the Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.

In an opinion filed today, we reverse that judgment.

In the past we have held that judges are absolutely immune for their acts of adjudication.

A decision to demote or discharge a subordinate employee, however, is an administrative or executive act not included within the judicial function itself.

In this context the traditional justification for absolute immunity does not apply and we hold there is no absolute immunity from suit for damages in these circumstances.

The judgment is unanimous, Justice Blackmun has joined all but part 2 of the opinion.