Legislative Immunity Is Not Compensation

1997

In Operation Rescue Nat’l v. United States, Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion group, sues Sen. Edward Kennedy for statements he made in support of legislation prohibiting violent anti-abortion protests. Kennedy says he cannot be sued based on statements he made on the floor of the Senate or statements concerning pending legislation. Operation Rescue argues that the statute that grants immunity is unconstitutional because it gives legislators an immediate benefit in violation of the 27th Amendment. The Massachusetts District Court notes that the 27th Amendment is rooted in “a fear that corruption would result if the legislature … increased the salaries of public offices for the benefit of its own members.” The Court then rules that legislative immunity is not compensation recognized under the 27th Amendment. “Official immunity does not exist simply for the personal or private benefit of members of Congress, but to protect the integrity of the legislative process by insuring the independence of individual legislators.”