Circuit Split: Enforcing The Speech Or Debate Clause

Law360, New York (July 15, 2011, 1:48 PM EDT) -- Once an obscure provision that generated little public attention, the "speech or debate" clause of the U.S. Constitution has been resurrected as a major, and controversial, impediment in a number of recent corruption investigations of federal lawmakers. Two of the most prominent appellate courts have adopted sharply divergent approaches to enforcing the clause, which protects certain congressional activities from executive or judicial interference, and as a result its application is uncertain to both prosecutors and lawmakers fairly or unfairly caught in the government’s crosshairs.

As the...
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