Supreme Court Decides Question involving Federal Immunity and the Little Tucker Act

Here is today’s opinion in United States v. Bormes.

An excerpt from Justice Scalia’s unanimous opinion:

[The Federal Circuit] distorted our case law in applying to FCRA the immunity-waiver standard we expressed in White Mountain Apache Tribe, 537 U. S., at 472: whether the statute “‘can fairly be interpreted as mandating compensation by the Federal Government for the damage sustained.’ ” 626 F. 3d, at 578. That is the test for determining whether a statute that imposes an obligation but does not provide the elements of a cause of action qualifies for suit under the Tucker Act—more specifically, whether the failure to perform an obligation undoubtedly imposed on the Federal Government creates a right to monetary relief. See White Mountain Apache Tribe, supra; Mitchell II, 463 U. S. 206. That test is not relevant when a “mandate of compensation” is contained in a statute that provides a detailed judicial remedy against those who are subject to its requirements. FCRA is such a statute. By using the “fair interpretation” test to determine whether FCRA’s civil liability provisions apply to the United States, the Federal Circuit directed the test to a purpose for which it was not designed and leapfrogged the threshold concern that the Tucker Act cannot be superimposed on an existing remedial scheme.