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Bell, Hon. Griffin B., Attorney General of the United States; accompanied
S. 2117 AND AMENDMENTS
duction of bill amending Federal Tort Claims Act, September 16, 1977---
Amendments proposed by Justice Department at January 26, 1978, hearing
Letter of ACLU, Common Cause, Public Citizen, Council for Public
QUESTIONS OF SUBCOMMITTEES REGARDING S. 2117
Letter from Justice Department to Senator Abourezk, March 13, 1978,
with answers to questions of February 7, 1978, on S. 2117-Second letter of Senator Abourezk to Attorney General, March 21, 1978,
with further questions on S. 2117--
1978, on retroactive application of S. 21172-..
Federal Tort Claims Act.
Člaims Act (International Torts) --
Claims Act (International Torts) --
Tort Claims Act (International Torts)
pretive Analysis,” Jack Boger, Mark Gitenstein, and Paul R. Verkuil,
54 North Carolina Law Review 497 (1976) Tort Claims provisions of swine flu bill, 42 U.S.C 2476_ H.R. 10439, amendments to the Federal Tort Claims Act (93d Congress)-
COURT CASES AND BRIEFS
Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics,
403 U.S. 388 (1971)--
456 F. 2d 1339 (2d Cir. 1972) -
263 274 298 308 315 330
2 See letter of April 10, 1978, at p. 52.
AMENDMENTS TO THE FEDERAL TORT CLAIMS ACT:
THURSDAY, JANUARY 26, 1978
U.S. SENATE, SUBCOMMITTEE ON CITIZENS
AND SHAREHOLDERS RIGHTS AND REMEDIES,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittees met, pursuant to notice, at 9:30 a.m., in room 235, Russell Office Building, Hon. Howard M. Metzenbaum, chairman of the Subcommittee on Citizens and Shareholders Rights and Remedies, presiding.
Present: Senators Metzenbaum and Thurmond.
Staff present: Herman Schwartz, chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Citizens and Shareholders Rights and Remedies; Irene Emsellem, chief counsel, Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure; Charles Ludlam, counsel, Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure; and Patricia Hoff, counsel to Senator Wallop.
Also present: Patricia Wald, Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. HOWARD M. METZENBAUM, U.S.
SENATOR FROM THE STATE OF OHIO, CHAIRMAN OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON CITIZENS AND SHAREHOLDERS RIGHTS AND REMEDIES
Senator METZENBAUM. Today we open hearings on S. 2117, which amends the Federal Tort Claims Act with respect to constitutional violations by Federal officials.
[A copy of S. 2117 will be found on p. 39 of the appendix. Proposed amendments submitted by Senator Eastland and the Justice Department follow the bill at pp. 44 to 51. S. 2117 as amended appears at p. 52 and the Federal Tort Claims Act as amended by S. 2117 as amended appears at p. 57.]
We are pleased to welcome the Attorney General and others to this opening hearing. Our sole witness today will be Attorney General Griffin Bell, and our hearings will be conducted jointly with the Subcommittee on Administrative Practice and Procedure, chaired by the distinguished Senator from South Dakota, Senator James Abourezk.
In the future, we will be scheduling additional hearings on the bill, at which representatives of the community and other Government agencies will be heard. Because the bill is still in the process of
being modified by the Department of Justice, it seemed appropriate to defer such testimony until the Department's final product is available for consideration.
The bill has been prepared by the Department of Justice and is an administration proposal. Its most significant feature is this: in cases where Federal officials have violated a person's constitutional rights, that person will be able to sue the United States—which waives sovereign immunity for these matters—but not the individual official. This is the reverse of the present situation, as we understand it. The administration has proposed this bill because it will eliminate the need for the Government either to defend the individual employee or—where the official may be guilty of a criminal act—to obtain outside private counsel for him or her, at great expense. The Government has also stressed that such suits impair morale of Government employees.
In return for removing the opportunity to sue the individual officials, the bill would provide for a remedy directly against the United States, and the possibility of some kind of administrative remedy.
This bill has occasioned a great deal of criticism and discussion. Common Cause, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many others have raised many questions about the bill, both in general and with respect to details. A copy of two letters setting out some of these criticisms and questions has been provided the subcommittee and will be made a part of the record of this hearing.
[The letters will be found on p. 70 and p. 74 of the appendix.]
The fundamental issue comes down to this: if damages can no longer be exacted from individuals who violate constitutional rights, what alternative sanctions can be imposed on such officials? Are administrative remedies available and adequate? What remedies are available against former employees and presidential appointees? Does this bill create a risk that there will be no sanctions at all to deter grave constitutional violations, no matter how outrageous or unjustified they are?
These are the most basic issues. In addition many questions have been raised about details of the bill. Our subcommittee submitted some of these questions to the Department on December 14, 1977, and received a set of replies dated January 20, 1978; they will also be made a part of the record. We appreciate the Department's cooperation in this matter and both the subcommittee questionnaire and the Department's replies will be made a part of this record.
[The questions will be found on p. 80 and the answers on p. 90 of the appendix.]
Mr. Attorney General, we are eagerly looking forward to your testimony. Senator Abourezk, who was to be here, cannot be here. But he does have some questions to which he would like written responses. And his opening statement will be inserted into the record at this point.
[The questions submitted by Senator Abourezk on February 7, 1978 will be found on n. 104 and the answers returned by the Justice Department on March 13, 1978, will be found on p. 114 of the appendix. A sec
1 See letter of Attorney General to Vice President Mondale of September 17, 1977, at p. 26 in the appendix.