Constitutional FAQ Answer #89 – The U.S. Constitution Online – USConstitution.net

Constitutional FAQ Answer #89

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Q89. “If a President has civil litigation brought
against him during his term in office must this be handled while he is in
office? Or, can it be deferred until his term expires?”

A. A civil case can be deferred, and before 1997, most people would likely
have guessed that any civil case filed against the President would be
deferred. However, a Supreme Court ruling against President Clinton in 1997
allowed a civil case against him to proceed. The reasoning was that since the
case against him concerned acts committed prior to his taking office, that the
Presidency did not lend him a shield against such litigation. The decision
would seem to leave in place the notion that a President cannot be sued for
actions taken as President, protecting Presidents from frivolous lawsuits
designed to tie up an administration’s conduct of national business.

Last Modified: 10 Aug 2010

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