Bradley v. Fisher

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In Bradley v. Fisher, 13 Wall. 335 (1872), the U.S. Supreme Court established the absolute judicial immunity, holding that the immunity was designed to further the public interest in an independent judiciary, sometimes at the expense of legitimate individual grievances. Id. at 349.

The Court accepted those costs to aggrieved individuals because the judicial system itself provided other means for protecting individual rights:[1]

"Against the consequences of [judges'] erroneous or irregular action, from whatever motives proceeding, the law has provided for private parties numerous remedies, and to those remedies they must, in such cases, resort."

Underlying this Bradley immunity is the notion that private rights can be sacrificed in some degree to the achievement of the greater public good deriving from a completely independent judiciary, because there exist alternative forums and methods for vindicating those rights. Where the rights of appeal are lacking, there should not be any absolute judicial immunity. See Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349, 370 (1978) (Powell, J., dissenting).


  1. 13 Wall. at 354.