Forrester v. White

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In Forrester v. White, 484 U.S. 219 (1988), the U.S. Supreme Court held that state-court judge does not have absolute immunity from a suit for damages under Section 1983 for his decision to dismiss a subordinate court employee.

The employee, who had been a probation officer, alleged that she was demoted and discharged on account of her sex, in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court, in an opinion written by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor held that the judge's decisions were not judicial acts for which he should be held absolutely immune.

Specifically, the Court found judicial immunity inapplicable where a state judge had been sued for sexual discrimination in employment-related matters, id. at 229, and held that there is no immunity for "acts that simply happen to have been done by judges" when the conduct was not judicial acts. Id. at 227. The "immunity is justified and defined by the functions it protects and serves, not by the person to whom it attaches." Id. The Court emphasized that there is an "intelligible distinction between judicial acts and the administrative, legislative, or executive functions that judges may on occasion be assigned by law to perform." Id. at 227.