Tenney v. Brandhove 341 U.S. 367 (1951)

Author:Theodore Eisenberg
Pages:2667
 
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Page 2667

This decision established the absolute immunity of state legislative officials from damages actions, brought under SECTION 1983, TITLE 42, UNITED STATES CODE, alleging violations of constitutional rights. William Brandhove claimed that Senator Jack B. Tenney and other members of a California state legislative committee had violated his constitutional rights by conducting hearings to intimidate and silence him. In an opinion by Justice FELIX FRANKFURTER, the Supreme Court noted the history of parliamentary immunity in England, and cited the SPEECH OR DEBATE CLAUSE as a recognition of the need for a fearless and independent legislature. It held that, despite the unequivocal language of section 1983, Congress had not meant to "impinge on a...

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