The Law: Can You Sue the White House? Opening the Door for Separation of Powers Immunity in Cheney v. District Court

Authors

  • LOUIS KLAREVAS

    Corresponding author
    1. City University of New York—College of Staten Island
      Louis Klarevas is assistant professor of political science at the City University of New York—College of Staten Island. He would like to thank Lou Fisher for comments on a previous version.
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Louis Klarevas is assistant professor of political science at the City University of New York—College of Staten Island. He would like to thank Lou Fisher for comments on a previous version.

Abstract

Over the course of the past few decades, creative lawyers in the executive branch have asserted a variety of privileges and immunities to shield America's highest executive officials, the president and vice president of the United States, from both criminal and civil proceedings. The challenges naturally raise important constitutional questions, which the federal courts are often asked to address. The Supreme Court has offered some broad parameters for holding the president in check while at the same time preserving the balance between the three branches of the federal government. This article begins with an overview of the parameters that the Supreme Court has established regarding presidential immunity. The article then proceeds to a discussion of how the Supreme Court, in Cheney v. District Court, recently addressed the current administration's efforts to avoid civil action against the vice president by asserting executive immunity based on the separation of powers doctrine. The article concludes with a brief discussion of the implications of the Court's ruling in Cheney v. District Court.

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