What's at Stake
Whether a lawsuit seeking damages for the unconstitutional denial of medical care can be brought against Public Health Service doctors working in immigration detention facilities.
Under the Constitution, the government may not ignore the medical needs of detainees in its care. Prisoners who are deprived of the constitutionally required level of medical care have long been permitted to seek money damages for that constitutional violation. The government nonetheless claims in this case that Public Health Service Doctors should be treated differently than doctors employed directly by the federal Bureau of Prisons. The latter can be sued for unconstitutional denials of medical care but the government insists that the former cannot. The ACLU amicus brief argues that the distinction proposed by the government makes no sense and is inconsistent with congressional intent. In addition, the ACLU brief provides case histories documenting a pattern of medical neglect in immigration detention facilities.