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Legislative Immunity

Robert Wechsler
For any speech in debate in either house, no member shall be questioned in any other place, except by the ethics commission as set forth  in Article III, section 8 of this Constitution.

No, this is not the text of a dream I had last night. This is the text of an amendment to the Rhode Island constitution proposed yesterday by five state representatives in House Bill 2001-H 5410. The Rhode...
Robert Wechsler
Oklahoma's Open Meeting Act, which applies to local governments, ends with an unusual provision. That provision is the only provision in the act that deals with enforcement. It says that a willful violation of a provision is a misdemeanor, and that someone guilty of a violation may be fined up to $500 and/or imprisoned in a county jail for up to one year.

Is there any other nation in the world that would...
Robert Wechsler
It is worth noting that the respondent member of the Stamford board of finance in the matter covered in the preceding blog post raised both a legislative immunity and a First Amendment free speech defense in his federal court complaint unsuccessfully seeking an injunction against his ethics proceeding...
Robert Wechsler
Yesterday's Washington Post has a long article on a topic one would expect to find in a law review: the effect of the Constitution's Speech or Debate Clause on the prosecution of members of Congress.

The article starts out with a strong statement: "A constitutional clash over whether House members are immune from many forms of Justice Department scrutiny has helped...
Robert Wechsler
This second blog post on the briefs filed concerning whether the Carrigan case should be accepted by the U.S. Supreme Court glances at arguments in the briefs filed by the two parties and then makes a different argument for why the First Amendment has no place in this sort of government ethics matter. Making this argument gets to the root of how the Constitution, and government ethics, protect the public. If only the courts would let the Constitution and government ethics work together, as they...
Robert Wechsler
Note: I made a few important changes to this blog post on January 10, in conjunction with the posting of my analysis of the parties' briefs in this case.

The Nevada Supreme Court's Carrigan decision, which I...