MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case raises some important questions about the power of federal officials to have actions brought against them removed to the federal courts. Petitioners Willingham and Jarvis are, respectively, the warden and chief medical officer at the United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, Kansas. Respondent Morgan was a prisoner at the penitentiary at the time he filed this suit in the Leavenworth County District Court. He alleged in his complaint that petitioners and other, anonymous, defendants had on numerous occasions inoculated him with "a deleterious foreign substance" and had assaulted, beaten, and tortured him in various ways, to his great injury. He asked for a total of $3,285,000 in damages from petitioners alone, plus other amounts from the unnamed defendants. Petitioners filed a petition for removal of the action to the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, alleging that anything they may have done to respondent "was done and made by them in the course of their duties as officers of the United States of America . . . and under color of such offices . . . ." Petitioners invoked 28 U. S. C. § 1442 (a) (1), which allows removal to the federal courts of any civil action against "[a]ny officer of the United States . . . for any act
The court below held that the "color of office" test of § 1442 (a) (1) "provides a rather limited basis for removal." 383 F. 2d, at 141. It noted that the record might well have supported a finding that petitioners were protected from a damage suit by the official immunity
The federal officer removal statute has had a long history. See H. M. Hart & H. Wechsler, The Federal Courts and the Federal System 1147-1150 (1953). The first such removal provision was included in an 1815 customs statute. Act of February 4, 1815, § 8, 3 Stat. 198. It was part of an attempt to enforce an embargo on trade with England over the opposition of the New England States, where the War of 1812 was quite unpopular. It allowed federal officials involved in the enforcement of the customs statute to remove to the federal courts any suit or prosecution commenced because of any act done "under color" of the statute. Obviously, the removal provision was an attempt to protect federal officers from interference by hostile state courts. This provision was not, however, permanent; it was by its terms to expire at the end of the war. But other periods of national stress spawned similar enactments. South Carolina's threats of nullification in 1833 led to the passage of the so-called Force Bill, which allowed removal of all suits or prosecutions for acts done under the customs laws. Act of March 2, 1833, § 3, 4 Stat. 633. A new group of removal statutes came with the Civil War, and they were eventually codified into a permanent statute which applied mainly to cases
The purpose of all these enactments is not hard to discern. As this Court said nearly 90 years ago in Tennessee v. Davis, 100 U.S. 257, 263 (1880), the Federal Government
For this very basic reason, the right of removal under § 1442 (a) (1) is made absolute whenever a suit in a state court is for any act "under color" of federal office, regardless of whether the suit could originally have been brought in a federal court. Federal jurisdiction rests on a "federal interest in the matter," Poss v. Lieberman, 299 F.2d 358, 359 (C. A. 2d Cir.), cert. denied, 370 U.S. 944 (1962), the very basic interest in the enforcement of federal law through federal officials.
Viewed in this context, the ruling of the court below cannot be sustained. The federal officer removal statute is not "narrow" or "limited." Colorado v. Symes, 286 U.S. 510, 517 (1932). At the very least, it is broad enough to cover all cases where federal officers can raise
The question remains, however, whether the record in this case will support a finding that respondent's suit grows out of conduct under color of office, and that it is, therefore, removable. Respondent alleged in his motion for remand that petitioners had been acting "on a frolic of their own which had no relevancy to their official duties as employees or officers of the United States." He argued that in these circumstances the case should be remanded to the state courts. The only facts in the record which in any way respond to this allegation appear in petitioners' affidavits in support of their motion for summary judgment.
The Judicial Code requires defendants who would remove cases to the federal courts to file "a verified petition containing a short and plain statement of the facts" justifying removal. 28 U. S. C. § 1446 (a). Moreover, this Court has noted that "the person seeking the benefit of [the removal provisions] should be candid, specific and positive in explaining his relation to the transaction" which gave rise to the suit. Maryland v. Soper (No. 1), 270 U.S. 9, 35 (1926); see Colorado v. Symes, supra, at 518-521. These requirements must, however, be tailored to fit the facts of each case.
It was settled long ago that the federal officer, in order to secure removal, need not admit that he actually committed the charged offenses. Maryland v. Soper (No. 1), supra, at 32-33. Thus, petitioners in this case need not have admitted that they actually injured respondent. They were, therefore, confronted with something of a dilemma. Respondent had filed a "scattergun" complaint, charging numerous wrongs on numerous different
In a civil suit of this nature,
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE BLACK, concurring.
I concur in the judgment of the Court and in the opinion except for one portion which is quoted below in answer to the Government's contention:
I see no necessity in this case for comparing the breadth of the law authorizing removal of cases from state to federal courts with the test "for official immunity." This case raises no question about official immunity from lawsuits for conduct of a government employee. Moreover, the difference between the breadth of a right to remove and a right to claim immunity is purely conceptual and cannot be measured by any means that I know about.
I would therefore eliminate the above-quoted statement from the Court's opinion.
"(a) A civil action or criminal prosecution commenced in a State court against any of the following persons may be removed by them to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place wherein it is pending:
"(1) Any officer of the United States or any agency thereof, or person acting under him, for any act under color of such office or on account of any right, title or authority claimed under any Act of Congress for the apprehension or punishment of criminals or the collection of revenue."