The Speech or Debate Clause, and More from CRS

12.21.17 | 1 min read | Text by Steven Aftergood

The speech or debate clause of the US Constitution provides Members of Congress (and their staff) with civil and criminal immunity for “legislative acts” that they perform in the course of their duties, shielding them from harassment or intimidation.

The clause is “a key pillar in the American separation of powers” that serves to “protect the independence, integrity, and effectiveness of the legislative branch by barring executive or judicial intrusions into the protected sphere of the legislative process,” as described in a new overview from the Congressional Research Service.

If Members of Congress do not value their deliberative role and do not wish to function as independent actors, the speech and debate clause cannot make them. But it is there to protect them if they do. See Understanding the Speech or Debate Clause, December 1, 2017.

Other new reports from the Congressional Research Service include the following:

Winter Fuels Outlook 2017-2018, December 5, 2017

Bank Systemic Risk Regulation: The $50 Billion Threshold in the Dodd-Frank Act, December 6, 2017

Defining Broadband: Minimum Threshold Speeds and Broadband Policy, December 4, 2017

The Application of the “One Central Reason” Standard in Asylum and Withholding of Removal CasesCRS Legal Sidebar, December 18, 2017

What Happens if H.R. 1 Conflicts with U.S. Tax Treaties?CRS Legal Sidebar, December 19, 2017

The War in Yemen: A Compilation of Legislation in the 115th Congress, December 20, 2017