Monday, November 10, 2014

MBE Fast Fact: Legislative Immunity

There are many ways that the tort of defamation can be tested on the MBE. One constitutional aspect of defamation to keep in mind is called the Speech and Debate Clause.

Article 1 Section 6 of the Constitution provides that for any speech or debate in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, members of Congress shall not be questioned in regards to statements made. And it's important to note that the statement need not relate to legislation; it's enough that the words were spoken on the floor during a legislative session. The clause shields members of Congress from civil or criminal suits relating to their legislative actions, and from grand jury investigations relating to those actions.

The MBE has also tested whether the Speech or Debate Clause applies to protect legislative assistants. In fact it does to the extent that the assistants are performing acts that would have been protected had they been performed by a member of Congress.

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