Butz v. Economou
Significance, The Lower Court Rulings, Officials Entitled To Qualified Immunity, Officials Not Liable For Mistakes In Judgment
Earl L. Butz
Arthur N. Economou
That federal officials acting within the scope of their authority have absolute immunity for allegedly unconstitutional acts.
Chief Lawyer for Petitioner
Daniel M. Friedman
Chief Lawyer for Respondent
David C. Buxbaum
Justices for the Court
Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Lewis F. Powell, Jr., Byron R. White (writing for the Court)
Warren E. Burger, William H. Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Potter Stewart
Date of Decision
29 June 1978
Federal executive officials are entitled only to qualified immunity in suits brought against them for unconstitutional acts.
The Supreme Court Ruling
On 29 June 1978 the Supreme Court issued its decision. By a narrow vote of 5-4, it ruled in favor of Economou and against Earl Butz. Justice White wrote the majority opinion, in which he was joined by Justices Marshall, Powell, Brennan, and Blackmun. The majority opinion ruled on three points of contention in the case.
- Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1960).
- Harlow v. Fitzgerald, 457 U.S. 800 (1982).
- Biskupic, Joan, and Elder Witt, eds. Congressional Quarterly's Guide to the U.S. Supreme Court, 3rd ed. Washington, DC: Congressional Quarterly, Inc., 1996.
- Encyclopedia of the American Constitution. New York, NY: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1986.
- Hall, Kermit L., ed. The Oxford Companion to the Supreme Court . New York: Oxford University Press, 1992.
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