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Legislative Immunity

Robert Wechsler
Did you know that the District of Columbia has its own Speech or Debate Clause? I learned this from reading the Motion for a Protective Order on Behalf of Mayor Vincent C. Gray filed on Thursday in the case of Payne v. District of Columbia. Gray, a former council president, is seeking to be protected from testifying in a case involving alleged retaliation against a whistleblower. A...
Robert Wechsler
The paths of justice have some odd twists to them. Consider these twists. As I wrote in a blog post almost exactly a year ago, both parties to a case involving a Baltimore council member's alleged acceptance of a bribe argued that a statutory provision entitled "Action for defamation against local government official" was not relevant to the case. Here is the text of that provision (§5-...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit, in its decision in U.S. v Renzi, considered what constitutes a "legislative act" with respect to the constitutional Speech or Debate Clause, which provides legislative immunity to legislators by preventing the executive and judicial branches from investigating or hearing matters involving legislative acts. The case involved a former congressional...
Robert Wechsler
Reading the Supreme Court majority and dissent opinions in McComish v. Bennett (attached, see below; actually Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett at the Supreme Court level) is a very jarring experience that I highly recommend to anyone interested in government ethics. One opinion presents the world as we know it. The other opinion exists in a different world, a world without action and inaction on the part of legislative officials that can be tied directly...
Robert Wechsler
According to the Wisconsin Supreme Court majority, a state legislature does not have to follow ethics laws, even ethics laws expressly designed to meet constitutional requirements. This shocking statement comes from the opinion in the case Wisconsin v. Fitzgerald, which I discussed in...
Robert Wechsler
Going by the reaction of the news media and the Pulitzer committee, the most serious government ethics scandal of 2010 occurred in Bell, California, where the city's top officials were paying themselves huge salaries, taking advantage of an uneducated, uninvolved citizenry.

Well, guess what. According to an article in Friday's Los Angeles Times, a Los Angeles...

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