Congressional Immunity

Archive Report

Role of Immunity in Democratic Government

Frees Use by United States senators and representatives of the right to speak their minds in congressional debates and committee proceedings without fear of legal reprisal by persons who may be defamed has raised difficult questions for responsible members of Congress and the federal courts. The protection afforded to legislators by the Constitution's guarantee of immunity from suits for slander has been extended over the years to a variety of situations which could hardly have been envisioned by the founding fathers. The basic problem presented by the expanded coverage and recent abuses of congressional immunity is whether the special free-speech privilege can now be restricted without impairing-a constitutional grant which is recognized as essential to the processes of democratic ...

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