Nance v. Ward, Commissioner, Georgia Department of Corrections, et al.
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Eleventh Circuit
No. 21–439. Argued April 25, 2022—Decided June 23, 2022
A prisoner who challenges a State’s proposed method of execution under the Eighth Amendment must identify a readily available alternative method that would significantly reduce the risk of severe pain. If the prisoner proposes a method already authorized under state law, the Court has held that his claim can go forward under 42 U. S. C. §1983, rather than in habeas. See Nelson v. Campbell, 541 U. S. 637, 644–647. But the prisoner is not confined to proposing a method already authorized under state law; he may ask for a method used in other States. See Bucklew v. Precythe, 587 U. S. ___, ___. The question presented is whether a prisoner who does so may still proceed under §1983.
Petitioner Michael Nance brought suit under §1983 to enjoin Georgia from using lethal injection to carry out his execution. Lethal injection is the only method of execution that Georgia law now authorizes. Nance alleges that applying that method to him would create a substantial risk of severe pain. As an alternative to lethal injection, Nance proposes death by firing squad—a method currently approved by four other States. The District Court dismissed Nance’s §1983 suit as untimely. The Eleventh Circuit rejected it for a different reason: that Nance should have advanced his method-of-execution claim by way of a habeas petition rather than a §1983 suit. A habeas petition, that court stated, is appropriate when a prisoner seeks to invalidate his death sentence. And the Eleventh Circuit thought that was what Nance was doing. It asserted that Georgia law—which again, only authorizes execution by lethal injection—had to be taken as “fixed.” 981 F. 3d 1201, 1211. Under that “fixed” law, the court said, enjoining Georgia from executing Nance by lethal injection would mean that he could not be executed at all. The court therefore “reconstrued” Nance’s §1983 complaint as a habeas petition. Id., at 1203. Having done so, the court then dismissed Nance’s petition as “second or successive,” because he had previously sought federal habeas relief. 28 U. S. C. §2244(b).
Held: Section 1983 remains an appropriate vehicle for a prisoner’s method-of-execution claim where, as here, the prisoner proposes an alternative method not authorized by the State’s death-penalty statute.
Both §1983 and the federal habeas statute enable a prisoner to complain of “unconstitutional treatment at the hands of state officials.” Heck v. Humphrey, 512 U. S. 477, 480. A prisoner may generally sue under §1983, unless his claim falls into that statute’s “implicit exception” for actions that lie “within the core of habeas corpus.” Wilkinson v. Dotson, 544 U. S. 74, 79. When a prisoner seeks relief that would “necessarily imply the invalidity of his conviction or sentence,” he comes within the core and must proceed in habeas. Heck, 512 U. S., at 487.
The Court has twice held that prisoners could bring method-of- execution claims under §1983. See Nelson, 541 U. S., at 644–647; Hill v. McDonough, 547 U. S. 573, 580–583. Although these cases predated the Court’s requirement that prisoners identify alternative methods of execution, each prisoner had still said enough to leave the Court convinced that alternatives to the challenged procedures were available. See Nelson, 541 U. S., at 646; Hill, 547 U. S., at 580–581. Because alternatives were available, the prisoners’ challenges would not “necessarily prevent [the State] from carrying out [their] execution[s].” Nelson, 541 U. S., at 647 (emphasis in original); see Hill, 547 U. S., at 583. That made §1983 a proper vehicle.
In Nelson and Hill, the Court observed that using a different method required only a change in an agency’s uncodified protocol. Here, Georgia would have to change its statute to carry out Nance’s execution by firing squad. Except for that fact, this case would even more clearly than Nelson and Hill be fit for §1983. Since those cases, the Court has required a prisoner bringing a method-of-execution claim to propose an alternative way of carrying out his death sentence. Thus, an order granting the prisoner relief does not, as required for habeas, “necessarily prevent” the State from implementing the execution. Nelson, 541 U. S., at 647 (emphasis in original). Rather, the order gives the State a pathway forward.
That remains true even where, as here, the proposed alternative is one unauthorized by present state law. Nance’s requested relief still places his execution in Georgia’s control. If Georgia wants to carry out the death sentence, it can enact legislation approving what a court has found to be a fairly easy-to-employ method of execution. Although that may take more time and effort than changing an agency protocol, Hill explained that the “incidental delay” involved in changing a procedure is irrelevant to the vehicle question—which focuses on whether the requested relief would “necessarily” invalidate the death sentence. 547 U. S., at 583. And anyway, Georgia has given no reason to think that passing new legislation would be a substantial impediment.
The Court of Appeals could reach the contrary conclusion only by wrongly treating Georgia’s statute as immutable. In its view, granting Nance relief would necessarily imply the invalidity of his death sentence because Georgia law must be taken as “fixed.” 981 F. 3d, at 1211. But one of the “main aims” of §1983 is to “override”—and thus compel change of—state laws when necessary to vindicate federal constitutional rights. Monroe v. Pape, 365 U. S. 167, 173. Indeed, courts not uncommonly entertain prisoner suits under §1983 that may, if successful, require changing state law.
Under the contrary approach, the federal vehicle for bringing a federal method-of-execution claim would depend on the vagaries of state law. Consider how Nance’s claim would fare in different States. In Georgia (and any other State with lethal injection as the sole authorized method), he would have to bring his claim in a habeas petition. But in States authorizing other methods when a court holds injection unlawful, he could file a §1983 suit. It would be strange to read state-by-state discrepancies into the Court’s understanding of how §1983 and the habeas statute apply to federal constitutional claims. That is especially so because the use of the vehicles can lead to different outcomes: An inmate in one State could end up getting his requested relief, while an inmate in another might have his case thrown out.
The approach of the Court of Appeals raises one last problem: It threatens to undo the commitment this Court made in Bucklew. The Court there told prisoners they could identify an alternative method not “presently authorized” by the executing State’s law. 587 U. S., at ___. But under the approach of the Court of Appeals, a prisoner who presents an out-of-state alternative is relegated to habeas—and once there, he will almost inevitably collide with the second-or-successive bar. That result, precluding claims like Nance’s, would turn Bucklew into a sham.
Finally, recognizing that §1983 is a good vehicle for a claim like Nance’s does not countenance “last-minute” claims to forestall an execution. Id., at ___. Courts must consider delay in deciding whether to grant a stay of execution, and outside the stay context, courts have tools to streamline §1983 actions and protect a sentence’s timely enforcement. Pp. 5–13.
981 F. 3d 1201, reversed and remanded.
Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kavanaugh, JJ., joined. Barrett, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Thomas, Alito, and Gorsuch, JJ., joined.
NEW YORK STATE RIFLE & PISTOL ASSOCIATION, INC., et al. v. BRUEN, SUPERINTENDENT OF NEW YORK STATE POLICE, et al.
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Second Circuit
No. 20–843. Argued November 3, 2021—Decided June 23, 2022
The State of New York makes it a crime to possess a firearm without a license, whether inside or outside the home. An individual who wants to carry a firearm outside his home may obtain an unrestricted license to “have and carry” a concealed “pistol or revolver” if he can prove that “proper cause exists” for doing so. N. Y. Penal Law Ann. §400.00(2)(f ). An applicant satisfies the “proper cause” requirement only if he can “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community.” E.g., In re Klenosky, 75 App. Div. 2d 793, 428 N. Y. S. 2d 256, 257.
Petitioners Brandon Koch and Robert Nash are adult, law-abiding New York residents who both applied for unrestricted licenses to carry a handgun in public based on their generalized interest in self-defense. The State denied both of their applications for unrestricted licenses, allegedly because Koch and Nash failed to satisfy the “proper cause” requirement. Petitioners then sued respondents—state officials who oversee the processing of licensing applications—for declaratory and injunctive relief, alleging that respondents violated their Second and Fourteenth Amendment rights by denying their unrestricted-license applications for failure to demonstrate a unique need for self-defense. The District Court dismissed petitioners’ complaint and the Court of Appeals affirmed. Both courts relied on the Second Circuit’s prior decision in Kachalsky v. County of Westchester, 701 F. 3d 81, which had sustained New York’s proper-cause standard, holding that the requirement was “substantially related to the achievement of an important governmental interest.” Id., at 96.
Held: New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms in public for self-defense. Pp. 8–63.
(a) In District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U. S. 570, and McDonald v. Chicago, 561 U. S. 742, the Court held that the Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense. Under Heller, when the Second Amendment’s plain text covers an individual’s conduct, the Constitution presumptively protects that conduct, and to justify a firearm regulation the government must demonstrate that the regulation is consistent with the Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. Pp. 8–22.
(1) Since Heller and McDonald, the Courts of Appeals have developed a “two-step” framework for analyzing Second Amendment challenges that combines history with means-end scrutiny. The Court rejects that two-part approach as having one step too many. Step one is broadly consistent with Heller, which demands a test rooted in the Second Amendment’s text, as informed by history. But Heller and McDonald do not support a second step that applies means-end scrutiny in the Second Amendment context. Heller’s methodology centered on constitutional text and history. It did not invoke any means-end test such as strict or intermediate scrutiny, and it expressly rejected any interest-balancing inquiry akin to intermediate scrutiny. Pp. 9–15.
(2) Historical analysis can sometimes be difficult and nuanced, but reliance on history to inform the meaning of constitutional text is more legitimate, and more administrable, than asking judges to “make difficult empirical judgments” about “the costs and benefits of firearms restrictions,” especially given their “lack [of] expertise” in the field. McDonald, 561 U. S., at 790–791 (plurality opinion). Federal courts tasked with making difficult empirical judgments regarding firearm regulations under the banner of “intermediate scrutiny” often defer to the determinations of legislatures. While judicial deference to legislative interest balancing is understandable—and, elsewhere, appropriate—it is not deference that the Constitution demands here. The Second Amendment “is the very product of an interest balancing by the people,” and it “surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms” for self-defense. Heller, 554 U. S., at 635. Pp. 15–17.
(3) The test that the Court set forth in Heller and applies today requires courts to assess whether modern firearms regulations are consistent with the Second Amendment’s text and historical understanding. Of course, the regulatory challenges posed by firearms today are not always the same as those that preoccupied the Founders in 1791 or the Reconstruction generation in 1868. But the Constitution can, and must, apply to circumstances beyond those the Founders specifically anticipated, even though its meaning is fixed according to the understandings of those who ratified it. See, e.g., United States v. Jones, 565 U. S. 400, 404–405. Indeed, the Court recognized in Heller at least one way in which the Second Amendment’s historically fixed meaning applies to new circumstances: Its reference to “arms” does not apply “only [to] those arms in existence in the 18th century.” 554 U. S., at 582.
To determine whether a firearm regulation is consistent with the Second Amendment, Heller and McDonald point toward at least two relevant metrics: first, whether modern and historical regulations impose a comparable burden on the right of armed self-defense, and second, whether that regulatory burden is comparably justified. Because “individual self-defense is ‘the central component’ of the Second Amendment right,” these two metrics are “ ‘central’ ” considerations when engaging in an analogical inquiry. McDonald, 561 U. S., at 767 (quoting Heller, 554 U. S., at 599).
To be clear, even if a modern-day regulation is not a dead ringer for historical precursors, it still may be analogous enough to pass constitutional muster. For example, courts can use analogies to “longstanding” “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings” to determine whether modern regulations are constitutionally permissible. Id., at 626. That said, respondents’ attempt to characterize New York’s proper-cause requirement as a “sensitive-place” law lacks merit because there is no historical basis for New York to effectively declare the island of Manhattan a “sensitive place” simply because it is crowded and protected generally by the New York City Police Department. Pp. 17–22.
(b) Having made the constitutional standard endorsed in Heller more explicit, the Court applies that standard to New York’s proper-cause requirement. Pp. 23–62.
(1) It is undisputed that petitioners Koch and Nash—two ordinary, law-abiding, adult citizens—are part of “the people” whom the Second Amendment protects. See Heller, 554 U. S., at 580. And no party disputes that handguns are weapons “in common use” today for self-defense. See id., at 627. The Court has little difficulty concluding also that the plain text of the Second Amendment protects Koch’s and Nash’s proposed course of conduct—carrying handguns publicly for self-defense. Nothing in the Second Amendment’s text draws a home/public distinction with respect to the right to keep and bear arms, and the definition of “bear” naturally encompasses public carry. Moreover, the Second Amendment guarantees an “individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation,” id., at 592, and confrontation can surely take place outside the home. Pp. 23–24.
(2) The burden then falls on respondents to show that New York’s proper-cause requirement is consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition of firearm regulation. To do so, respondents appeal to a variety of historical sources from the late 1200s to the early 1900s. But when it comes to interpreting the Constitution, not all history is created equal. “Constitutional rights are enshrined with the scope they were understood to have when the people adopted them.” Heller, 554 U. S., at 634–635. The Second Amendment was adopted in 1791; the Fourteenth in 1868. Historical evidence that long predates or postdates either time may not illuminate the scope of the right. With these principles in mind, the Court concludes that respondents have failed to meet their burden to identify an American tradition justifying New York’s proper-cause requirement. Pp. 24–62.
(i) Respondents’ substantial reliance on English history and custom before the founding makes some sense given Heller’s statement that the Second Amendment “codified a right ‘inherited from our English ancestors.’ ” 554 U. S., at 599. But the Court finds that history ambiguous at best and sees little reason to think that the Framers would have thought it applicable in the New World. The Court cannot conclude from this historical record that, by the time of the founding, English law would have justified restricting the right to publicly bear arms suited for self-defense only to those who demonstrate some special need for self-protection. Pp. 30–37.
(ii) Respondents next direct the Court to the history of the Colonies and early Republic, but they identify only three restrictions on public carry from that time. While the Court doubts that just three colonial regulations could suffice to show a tradition of public-carry regulation, even looking at these laws on their own terms, the Court is not convinced that they regulated public carry akin to the New York law at issue. The statutes essentially prohibited bearing arms in a way that spread “fear” or “terror” among the people, including by carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.” See 554 U. S., at 627. Whatever the likelihood that handguns were considered “dangerous and unusual” during the colonial period, they are today “the quintessential self-defense weapon.” Id., at 629. Thus, these colonial laws provide no justification for laws restricting the public carry of weapons that are unquestionably in common use today. Pp. 37–42.
(iii) Only after the ratification of the Second Amendment in 1791 did public-carry restrictions proliferate. Respondents rely heavily on these restrictions, which generally fell into three categories: common-law offenses, statutory prohibitions, and “surety” statutes. None of these restrictions imposed a substantial burden on public carry analogous to that imposed by New York’s restrictive licensing regime.
Common-Law Offenses. As during the colonial and founding periods, the common-law offenses of “affray” or going armed “to the terror of the people” continued to impose some limits on firearm carry in the antebellum period. But there is no evidence indicating that these common-law limitations impaired the right of the general population to peaceable public carry.
Statutory Prohibitions. In the early to mid-19th century, some States began enacting laws that proscribed the concealed carry of pistols and other small weapons. But the antebellum state-court decisions upholding them evince a consensus view that States could not altogether prohibit the public carry of arms protected by the Second Amendment or state analogues.
Surety Statutes. In the mid-19th century, many jurisdictions began adopting laws that required certain individuals to post bond before carrying weapons in public. Contrary to respondents’ position, these surety statutes in no way represented direct precursors to New York’s proper-cause requirement. While New York presumes that individuals have no public carry right without a showing of heightened need, the surety statutes presumed that individuals had a right to public carry that could be burdened only if another could make out a specific showing of “reasonable cause to fear an injury, or breach of the peace.” Mass. Rev. Stat., ch. 134, §16 (1836). Thus, unlike New York’s regime, a showing of special need was required only after an individual was reasonably accused of intending to injure another or breach the peace. And, even then, proving special need simply avoided a fee.
In sum, the historical evidence from antebellum America does demonstrate that the manner of public carry was subject to reasonable regulation, but none of these limitations on the right to bear arms operated to prevent law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from carrying arms in public for that purpose. Pp. 42–51.
(iv) Evidence from around the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment also does not support respondents’ position. The “discussion of the [right to keep and bear arms] in Congress and in public discourse, as people debated whether and how to secure constitutional rights for newly free slaves,” Heller, 554 U. S., at 614, generally demonstrates that during Reconstruction the right to keep and bear arms had limits that were consistent with a right of the public to peaceably carry handguns for self-defense. The Court acknowledges two Texas cases—English v. State, 35 Tex. 473 and State v. Duke, 42 Tex. 455—that approved a statutory “reasonable grounds” standard for public carry analogous to New York’s proper-cause requirement. But these decisions were outliers and therefore provide little insight into how postbellum courts viewed the right to carry protected arms in public. See Heller, 554 U. S., at 632. Pp. 52–58.
(v) Finally, respondents point to the slight uptick in gun regulation during the late-19th century. As the Court suggested in Heller, however, late-19th-century evidence cannot provide much insight into the meaning of the Second Amendment when it contradicts earlier evidence. In addition, the vast majority of the statutes that respondents invoke come from the Western Territories. The bare existence of these localized restrictions cannot overcome the overwhelming evidence of an otherwise enduring American tradition permitting public carry. See Heller, 554 U. S., at 614. Moreover, these territorial laws were rarely subject to judicial scrutiny, and absent any evidence explaining why these unprecedented prohibitions on all public carry were understood to comport with the Second Amendment, they do little to inform “the origins and continuing significance of the Amendment.” Ibid.; see also The Federalist No. 37, p. 229. Finally, these territorial restrictions deserve little weight because they were, consistent with the transitory nature of territorial government, short lived. Some were held unconstitutional shortly after passage, and others did not survive a Territory’s admission to the Union as a State. Pp. 58–62.
(vi) After reviewing the Anglo-American history of public carry, the Court concludes that respondents have not met their burden to identify an American tradition justifying New York’s proper-cause requirement. Apart from a few late-19th-century outlier jurisdictions, American governments simply have not broadly prohibited the public carry of commonly used firearms for personal defense. Nor have they generally required law-abiding, responsible citizens to “demonstrate a special need for self-protection distinguishable from that of the general community” to carry arms in public. Klenosky, 75 App. Div. 2d, at 793, 428 N. Y. S. 2d, at 257. P. 62.
(c) The constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense is not “a second-class right, subject to an entirely different body of rules than the other Bill of Rights guarantees.” McDonald, 561 U. S., at 780 (plurality opinion). The exercise of other constitutional rights does not require individuals to demonstrate to government officers some special need. The Second Amendment right to carry arms in public for self-defense is no different. New York’s proper-cause requirement violates the Fourteenth Amendment by preventing law-abiding citizens with ordinary self-defense needs from exercising their right to keep and bear arms in public. Pp. 62–63.
818 Fed. Appx. 99, reversed and remanded.
Thomas, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Alito, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, JJ., joined. Alito, J., filed a concurring opinion. Kavanaugh, J., filed a concurring opinion, in which Roberts, C. J., joined. Barrett, J., filed a concurring opinion. Breyer, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Sotomayor and Kagan, JJ., joined.
Berger et al. v. North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP et al.
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Fourth Circuit
No. 21–248. Argued March 21, 2022—Decided June 23, 2022
In 2018, North Carolina amended its Constitution to provide that “[v]oters offering to vote in person shall present photographic identification.” Art. VI, §2(4). To implement the constitutional mandate, the General Assembly approved S. B. 824. The Governor vetoed the bill, the General Assembly overrode the veto, and S. B. 824 went into effect. The state conference of the NAACP then sued the Governor and members of the State Board of Elections (collectively, Board), a state agency whose members are both appointed and removable by the Governor. The NAACP alleged that S. B. 824 offends the Federal Constitution. The Board was defended by the State’s attorney general, who, like the Governor, is an independently elected official. The attorney general at the time was a former state senator who voted against an earlier voter-ID law and filed a declaration in support of a legal challenge against it. The speaker of the State House of Representatives and president pro tempore of the State Senate (hereinafter, legislative leaders) moved to intervene, arguing that, without their participation, important state interests would not be adequately represented in light of the Governor’s opposition to S. B. 824, the Board’s allegiance to the Governor and its tepid defense of S. B. 824 in parallel state-court proceedings, and the attorney general’s opposition to earlier voter-ID efforts.
The District Court applied a presumption that the legislative leaders’ interests would be adequately represented by the Governor, Board, and the attorney general and denied their motion to intervene. Unsatisfied with the Board’s defense following the denial of their motion, the legislative leaders sought to lodge an amicus brief and accompanying materials, but the District Court refused to consider them, struck them from the record, and granted a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of S. B. 824. The Fourth Circuit considered both District Court rulings in separate appeals before separate panels. On the preliminary injunction ruling, the panel held that the District Court had abused its discretion because the record contained insufficient evidence to show that S. B. 824 violated the Federal Constitution. On the intervention ruling, a separate panel agreed with the legislative leaders and held that the District Court had erred when denying them leave to intervene. Eventually, however, the Fourth Circuit decided to rehear the matter en banc and ruled that the legislative leaders were not entitled to intervene in the District Court proceedings. This Court agreed to hear the matter to resolve disagreements among the courts of appeals on the proper treatment of motions to intervene in cases like this one.
Held: North Carolina’s legislative leaders are entitled to intervene in this litigation. Pp. 8–19.
(a) Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a)(2) provides that a “court must permit anyone to intervene” who, (1) “[o]n timely motion,” (2) “claims an interest relating to the property or transaction that is the subject of the action, and is so situated that disposing the action may as a practical matter impair or impede the movant’s ability to protect its interest,” (3) “unless existing parties adequately represent that interest.” No one disputes the timeliness of the motion to intervene here. The Court thus addresses the Rule’s two remaining requirements.
States possess “ ‘a legitimate interest in the continued enforce[ment] of [their] own statutes,’ ” Cameron v. EMW Women’s Surgical Center, P. S. C., 595 U. S. ___, ___, and States may organize themselves in a variety of ways. When a State chooses to allocate authority among different officials who do not answer to one another, different interests and perspectives, all important to the administration of state government, may emerge. See, e.g., Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee, 594 U. S. ___. Appropriate respect for these realities suggests that federal courts should rarely question that a State’s interests will be practically impaired or impeded if its duly authorized representatives are excluded from participating in federal litigation challenging state law. Nor are state interests the only interests at stake. Permitting the participation of lawfully authorized state agents promotes informed federal-court decisionmaking and avoids the risk of setting aside duly enacted state law based on an incomplete understanding of relevant state interests. This Court’s teachings on these scores have been many, clear, and recent. See, e.g., Virginia House of Delegates v. Bethune-Hill, 587 U. S. ___; Hollingsworth v. Perry, 570 U. S. 693.
These precedents and the principles they represent are dispositive here. North Carolina law explicitly provides that “[t]he Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, as agents of the State, by and through counsel of their choice,” “shall jointly have standing to intervene on behalf of the General Assembly as a party in any judicial proceeding challenging a North Carolina statute or provision of the North Carolina Constitution.” N. C. Gen. Stat. Ann. §1–72.2(b). And the State has made plain that it considers the leaders of the General Assembly “necessary parties” to suits like this one. §120–32.6(b).
The Board submits that North Carolina law does not afford the legislative leaders authority to represent state interests. But that argument is difficult to square with the express statutory language. Alternatively, the Board argues that the statutes authorizing the legislative leaders to participate here violate the State Constitution by usurping power vested in the executive branch alone. That logic is hard to follow, however, given the Board’s concession that the legislative leaders may intervene permissively under Rule 24(b), and likely as a matter of right under Rule 24(a)(2) if the attorney general ceases to defend the law.
The NAACP offers a different reply, pointing out that Rule 24(a)(2) permits intervention only by “new” parties. And, it submits, the legislative leaders are already effectively “existing” parties to this suit challenging the enforcement of state law. That argument rests on a premise that is both formally and functionally mistaken. First, the NAACP has not sued the State but only certain state officers, and, so far, the legislative leaders are not among them. Functionally, however, this suit implicates North Carolina’s sovereign interests regardless of the named parties. And, where a State chooses to divide its sovereign authority among different officials and authorize their participation in a suit challenging state law, a full consideration of the State’s practical interests may require the involvement of different voices with different perspectives. Pp. 8–13.
(b) Concerning Rule 24(a)(2)’s third requirement, lower courts have adopted a variety of tests for evaluating whether an existing defendant already “adequately represent[s]” the same interests a proposed intervenor seeks to vindicate. Here, both the District Court and the en banc Court of Appeals improperly applied a “presumption” that the Board adequately represented the legislative leaders’ interests and held that the leaders could not overcome this presumption. But Rule 24(a)(2)’s test in this regard presents proposed intervenors with only a minimal challenge: It promises intervention to those who bear an interest that may be practically impaired or impeded “unless existing parties adequately represent that [same] interest.” See, e.g., Trbovich v. Mine Workers, 404 U. S. 528. Some lower courts have suggested that a presumption of adequate representation remains appropriate in certain classes of cases. But even taken on their own terms, none of these presumptions applies to cases like this one. For instance, some lower courts have adopted a presumption of adequate representation in cases where a movant’s interests are identical to those of an existing party. But even the Board concedes that this presumption applies only when interests fully overlap.
This litigation illustrates how divided state governments sometimes warrant participation by multiple state officials in federal court. Here, the legislative leaders seek to give voice to a perspective different from the Board’s. They assert an unalloyed interest in vindicating state law from constitutional challenge, without an eye to crosscutting administrative concerns—concerns that have colored the Board’s defense thus far. The NAACP worries that allowing the legislative leaders to intervene could “make trial management impossible.” While a proliferation of motions to intervene may be a cause for concern in some cases, this case is not one. Federal courts routinely handle cases involving multiple officials sometimes represented by different attorneys taking different positions. See, e.g., Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson, 595 U. S. ___. Whatever additional burdens adding the legislative leaders to this case may pose, those burdens fall well within the bounds of everyday case management. Pp. 13–19.
999 F. 3d 915, reversed.
Gorsuch, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Thomas, Breyer, Alito, Kagan, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Vega v. Tekoh
Certiorari To The United States Court Of Appeals For The Ninth Circuit
No. 21–499. Argued April 20, 2022—Decided June 23, 2022
The case arose out of the interrogation of respondent, Terence Tekoh, by petitioner, Los Angeles County Sheriff ’s Deputy Carlos Vega. Deputy Vega questioned Tekoh at the medical center where Tekoh worked regarding the reported sexual assault of a patient. Vega did not inform Tekoh of his rights under Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436. Tekoh eventually provided a written statement apologizing for inappropriately touching the patient’s genitals. Tekoh was prosecuted for unlawful sexual penetration. His written statement was admitted against him at trial. After the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, Tekoh sued Vega under 42 U. S. C. §1983, seeking damages for alleged violations of his constitutional rights. The Ninth Circuit held that the use of an un-Mirandized statement against a defendant in a criminal proceeding violates the Fifth Amendment and may support a §1983 claim against the officer who obtained the statement.
Held: A violation of the Miranda rules does not provide a basis for a §1983 claim. Pp. 4–16.
(a) Section 1983 provides a cause of action against any person acting under color of state law who “subjects” a person “to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws.” Tekoh argues that a violation of Miranda constitutes a violation of the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. That is wrong. Pp. 4–13.
(1) In Miranda, the Court concluded that additional procedural protections were necessary to prevent the violation of the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when suspects who are in custody are interrogated by the police. Miranda imposed a set of prophylactic rules requiring that custodial interrogation be preceded by now-familiar warnings and disallowing the use of statements obtained in violation of these new rules by the prosecution in its case-in-chief. 384 U. S., at 444, 479. Miranda did not hold that a violation of the rules it established necessarily constitute a Fifth Amendment violation. That makes sense, as an un-Mirandized suspect in custody may make self-incriminating statements without any hint of compulsion. The Miranda Court stated that the Constitution did not itself require “adherence to any particular solution for the inherent compulsions of the interrogation process” and that its decision “in no way create[d] a constitutional straitjacket.” Id., at 467. Since Miranda, the Court has repeatedly described Miranda rules as “prophylactic.” Pp. 4–7.
(2) After Miranda, the Court engaged in the process of charting the dimensions of these new prophylactic rules, and, in doing so, weighed the benefits and costs of any clarification of the prophylactic rules’ scope. See Maryland v. Shatzer, 559 U. S. 98, 106. Some post-Miranda decisions found that the balance of interests justified restrictions that would not have been possible if Miranda described the Fifth Amendment right as opposed to a set of rules designed to protect that right. For example, in Harris v. New York, 401 U. S. 222, 224–226, the Court held that a statement obtained in violation of Miranda could be used to impeach the testimony of a defendant, even though an involuntary statement obtained in violation of the Fifth Amendment could not have been employed in this way. In Michigan v. Tucker, 417 U. S. 443, 450–452, n. 26, the Court held that the “fruits” of an un-Mirandized statement can be admitted. In doing so, the Court distinguished police conduct that “abridge[s] [a person’s] constitutional privilege against compulsory self-incrimination” from conduct that “depart[s] only from the prophylactic standards later laid down by this Court in Miranda to safeguard that privilege.” 417 U. S., at 445–446. Similarly, in Oregon v. Elstad, 470 U. S. 298, the Court, following the reasoning in Tucker, refused to exclude a signed confession and emphasized that an officer’s error “in administering the prophylactic Miranda procedures . . . should not breed the same irremediable consequences as police infringement of the Fifth Amendment itself.” Id., at 309.
While many of the Court’s decisions imposed limits on Miranda’s prophylactic rules, other decisions found that the balance of interests called for expansion. For example, in Doyle v. Ohio, 426 U. S. 610, the Court held that silence following a Miranda warning cannot be used to impeach. The Court acknowledged that Miranda warnings are “prophylactic,” 426 U. S., at 617, but it found that allowing the use of post-warning silence would undermine the warnings’ implicit promise that silence would not be used to convict. Id., at 618. Likewise, in Withrow v. Williams, 507 U. S. 680, the Court rejected an attempt to restrict Miranda’s application in collateral proceedings based on the reasoning in Stone v. Powell, 428 U. S. 465 (1976). Once again acknowledging that Miranda adopted prophylactic rules, the Court balanced the competing interests and found that the costs of adopting a Stone-like rule outweighed any benefits. In sum, the Court’s post-Miranda cases acknowledge the prophylactic nature of the Miranda rules and engage in cost-benefit analysis to define their scope. Pp. 7–11.
(3) The Court’s decision in Dickerson v. United States, 530 U. S. 428, did not upset the firmly established prior understanding of Miranda as a prophylactic decision. Dickerson involved a federal statute, 18 U. S. C. §3501, that effectively overruled Miranda by making the admissibility of a statement given during custodial interrogation turn solely on whether it was made voluntarily. 530 U. S., at 431–432. The Court held that Congress could not abrogate Miranda by statute because Miranda was a “constitutional decision” that adopted a “constitutional rule,” 530 U. S., at 438–439, and the Court noted that these rules could not have been made applicable to the States if they did not have that status, see ibid. At the same time, the Court made it clear that it was not equating a violation of the Miranda rules with an outright Fifth Amendment violation. Instead, the Dickerson Court described the Miranda rules as “constitutionally based” with “constitutional underpinnings,” 530 U. S., at 440, and n. 5. Those formulations obviously avoided saying that a Miranda violation is the same as a violation of the Fifth Amendment right. Miranda was a “constitutional decision” and it adopted a “constitutional rule” in the sense that the decision was based on the Court’s judgment about what is required to safeguard that constitutional right. And when the Court adopts a constitutional prophylactic rule of this nature, Dickerson concluded, the rule has the status of a “La[w] of the United States” that is binding on the States under the Supremacy Clause (as Miranda implicitly held, since three of the four decisions it reversed came from state court, 384 U. S., at 491–494, 497–499), and the rule cannot be altered by ordinary legislation. Dickerson thus asserted a bold and controversial claim—that this Court has the authority to create constitutionally based prophylactic rules that bind both federal and state courts—but Dickerson cannot be understood any other way consistent with the Court’s prior decisions. Subsequent cases confirm that Dickerson did not upend the Court’s understanding of the Miranda rules as prophylactic. In sum, a violation of Miranda does not necessarily constitute a violation of the Constitution, and therefore such a violation does not constitute “the deprivation of [a] right . . . secured by the Constitution” for purposes of §1983. Pp. 11–13.
(b) A §1983 claim may also be based on “the deprivation of any rights . . . secured by the . . . laws.” But the argument that Miranda rules constitute federal “law” that can provide the ground for a §1983 claim cannot succeed unless Tekoh can persuade the Court that this “law” should be expanded to include the right to sue for damages under §1983. “A judicially crafted” prophylactic rule should apply “only where its benefits outweigh its costs,” Shatzer, 559 U. S., at 106. Here, while the benefits of permitting the assertion of Miranda claims under §1983 would be slight, the costs would be substantial. For example, allowing a claim like Tekoh’s would disserve “judicial economy,” Parklane Hosiery Co. v. Shore, 439 U. S. 322, 326, by requiring a federal judge or jury to adjudicate a factual question (whether Tekoh was in custody when questioned) that had already been decided by a state court. Allowing §1983 suits based on Miranda claims could also present many procedural issues. Miranda and its progeny provide sufficient protection for the Fifth Amendment right against compelled self-incrimination. Pp. 13–16.
985 F. 3d 713, reversed and remanded.
Alito, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C. J., and Thomas, Gorsuch, Kavanaugh, and Barrett, JJ., joined. Kagan, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Breyer and Sotomayor, JJ., joined.