Kimberlin v. Quinlan
Decided on June 12, 1995; 515 US 321


Prisoner claims that he sold marijuana to vice presidential candidate Dan Quayle

I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Criminal Justice (prison), First Amendment, qualified immunity, interlocutory appeals

B. Legal Question Presented:

Is a District Court’s denial of a motion for summary judgment filed by government officials entitled to a qualified immunity defense subject to an interlocutory appeal when the record raises solely factual issues?
II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

Petitioner, Michael J. Kimberlin, brought an action against the director of the Bureau of Prisons (respondent J. Michael Quinlan) and the director of public affairs at the Department of Justice claiming a violation of his First Amendment freedom of expression rights. Petitioner alleged that, while in prison in 1988, he was placed in administrative containment to prevent him from contacting the media and holding a pre-election press conference about Kimberlin’s claim that he had sold marijuana in 1971 to  Dan Quayle, the 1988 vice presidential candidate.

The respondents moved for summary judgment claiming qualified immunity. Government officials are normally shielded from liability unless a right has been clearly established. However, the District Court for the District of Columbia denied the respondents’ motion for summary judgment on the First Amendment claim. The respondents then filed an interlocutory appeal (an appeal on a ruling made before the end of a trial) on the summary judgment order. The Court of Appeals ruled that the respondents were entitled to qualified immunity and thus reversed and remanded the case.  They said the petitioner had not presented any direct evidence of an unconstitutional motive and that the petitioner’s First Amendment claims were supported only by circumstantial evidence. Kimberlin filed a petition for certiorari and the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review the case.
B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Howard T. Rosenblatt argued the cause for petitioner. With him on the briefs were Jerrold J. Ganzfried and Ellen S. Winter. Michael L. Martinez argued the cause for respondents. With him on the brief were Steven D. Gordon and William J. Dempster.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Opposing Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
A brief of amici curiae urging reversal was filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Anthony C. Epstein, Steven R. Shapiro, Arthur B. Spitzer, Leslie A. Brueckner, and Marc D. Stern

Paul Bender, Deputy Solicitor General, argued the cause for the United States as amicus curiae urging reversal. With him on the brief were Solicitor General Days, Assistant Attorney General Hunger, and Cornelia T. L. Pillard.

A brief of amici curiae urging affirmance was filed for the State of Hawaii et al. by Margery S. Bronster, Attorney General of Hawaii, and Girard D. Lau, Deputy Attorney General; Winston Bryant, Attorney General of Arkansas; Daniel E. Lungren, Attorney General of California; M. Jane Brady, Attorney General of Delaware; Alan G. Lance, Attorney General of Idaho; Pamela Carter, Attorney General of Indiana; Carla J. Stovall, Attorney General of Kansas; Chris Gorman, Attorney General of Kentucky; Hubert H. Humphrey III, Attorney General of Minnesota; Mike Moore, Attorney General of Mississippi; Jeremiah W Nixon, Attorney General of Missouri; Joseph P. Mazurek, Attorney General of Montana; Jeffrey R. Howard, Attorney General of New Hampshire; Victoria A. Graffeo, Attorney General of New York; Betty D. Montgomery, Attorney General of Ohio; Drew Edmondson, Attorney General of Oklahoma; Jeffrey B. Pine, Attorney General of Rhode Island; Mark Barnett, Attorney General of South Dakota; Jan Graham, Attorney General of Utah; Jeffrey L. Amestoy, Attorney General of Vermont; James S. Gilmore III, Attorney General of Virginia; James E. Doyle, Attorney General of Wisconsin; Richard Weil, Attorney General of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; and Alva A. Swan, Acting Attorney General of the Virgin Islands.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"PER CURIAM.

The judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit for further consideration in light of Johnson v. Jones, ante, p. 304."

[Editor's Note: The text above is all that is written in the US Supreme Court opinion for this case.  In Johnson v. Jones, the Court held that a defendant entitled to a qualified immunity defense cannot appeal a District Court’s summary judgment order by filing an interlocutory appeal when the issue raised is factual.]
Justice Vote: 9 Pro vs. 0 Con
(Per curiam (by the court) decision. No individual authorship of decision.)

  • Souter, D.  Pro
  • Thomas, C.  Pro
  • Ginsberg, R.  Pro
  • Breyer, S.  Pro
  • O'Connor, S.  Pro
  • Scalia, A.  Pro
  • Kennedy, A.  Pro
  • Stevens, J.  Pro
  • Rehnquist, W.  Pro
V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

The ACLU filed as amicus urging reversal; The US Supreme Court vacated and remanded the ruling of the lower court in a per curiam 9-0 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent win