Article I, section 6, of the U.S. Constitution grants both civil and criminal immunity to all members of Congress during the performance of their official legislative duties.
Wishing to avoid problems such as those between the British parliament and the crown, the Framers of the U.S. Constitution wanted members of Congress to participate in legislative debates and other official activities without fear of arrest or civil lawsuits. The speech and debate clause, Article I, section 6, of the U.S. Constitution, covers not only words spoken during congressional debates but also any actions required to conduct official legislative business. Protection extends to words spoken during committee hearings, speeches printed in the Congressional Record (whether delivered or not), and information obtained by congressional staff.
In Kilbourn v. Thompson
Gravel v. United States
Fisher, Louis. American Constitutional Law. 3d ed. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 1999. Katzmann, Robert A. Courts and Congress. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1997.
Congress, arrest and immunity of members of
Hutchinson v. Proxmire
Kilbourn v. Thompson
New York Times Co. v. United States
Powell v. McCormick
Separation of powers
Speech and press, freedom of