January 11, 2009

No Precedent for the Irons Ruling

Carroll Andrew Morse

In today’s Projo, I have an op-ed detailing how the Rhode Island Superior Court’s dismissal of the Ethics Commission case against William Irons ignores basic precedents that have been established by the Courts regarding legislative immunity. The decision is being appealed to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

More detailed background on the cases cited and on the history of the interpretation of legislative immunity is available here and here.

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Excellent Op Ed, Andrew.

Two excerpts in particular:

"In the American system of governance, constitutional amendments are the most authoritative sources that exist, outranking statutes passed by legislators and even the opinions of judges. Constitutional amendments resolve ambiguities in the law just as decisively — actually more decisively — than judicial opinions do."


"Given that the U.S. Supreme Court has never found a constitutional prohibition against the application of narrowly tailored ethics laws to legislators to exist in the past, the Rhode Island courts cannot go back and find one now. No judge has the authority to alter the straightforward meaning of a constitutional amendment by referring to a precedent that never was."

Posted by: Monique at January 11, 2009 5:54 PM

... by the way, please oh please let a higher court overturn this decision before it hits the US Supremes. Like our reputation for cranking out corrupt politicians isn't bad enough, imagine us making headlines around the country because a state judge tried to gut our ethics law.

Posted by: Monique at January 11, 2009 5:57 PM
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