The United States Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to open the door for foreign nationals to pursue civil rights cases in American courts, declining to revive a lawsuit by a slain Mexican teenager's family against the US Border Patrol agent who shot him on Mexican soil from across the border in Texas.
The court ruled 5-4 to uphold a lower court's dismissal of the lawsuit against the agent, Jesus Mesa, who shot 15-year-old Sergio Adrian Hernandez Guereca in the face in the 2010 incident. The family sued in federal court seeking monetary damages, accusing Mesa of violating the US Constitution's Fourth Amendment ban on unjustified deadly force and the Fifth Amendment right to due process.
The court, with the five conservative justices in the majority, refused to allow people who are not in the US at the time of a cross-border incident to file civil rights lawsuits in federal court.
Justice Samuel Alito, writing for the majority, said the case presented "foreign relations and national security implications" and noted that Congress should decide whether such lawsuits can be permitted, backing the position taken by President Donald Trump's administration.
The incident took place in June 2010 on the border between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Mesa did not face criminal charges, though Mexico condemned the shooting. The family also sued the federal government over the shooting but that was dismissed early in the litigation.
The ruling was issued at a time of high tensions involving the southern border, where Trump is pursuing construction of a wall separating the US and Mexico.
The dispute hinged on whether the family, despite Hernandez having died on Mexican soil, could seek monetary damages against what they call a "rogue" agent for alleged civil rights violations.