- Gayle: What should we do?
- Ryan: Well, we can sit around and talk about our feelings.
- Dylan: Okay! I feel good!
can you even sue the president like what if you tried to sue obama and you just got a letter back saying “no” and he came to your house and did the worm
why is it i don’t find text posts like this strange anymore
Actually (he says, pedantically pushing imaginary glasses up the bridge of his nose), it depends.
Clinton v. Jones was a landmark Supreme Court case that established sitting presidents do not have immunity from civil litigation for acts committed prior to taking office, or for acts unrelated to being President of the United States.
The case was a sexual harassment lawsuit between Bill Clinton (surprise, surprise) and a former Arkansas state employee, Paula Jones. Ms. Jones said that, while he was Governor of Arkansas in 1991, the future president crudely propositioned her. The case worked its way through the courts, with a U.S. District Court judge (who was taught law by Bill Clinton, incidentally) ruling that the suit had to be postponed until the end of Clinton’s term in office, an appellate court ruling that no, the lawsuit could proceed, and the Supreme Court finally ruling unanimously that presidents are not immune to civil lawsuits.
Incidentally, Clinton v. Jones and the big mess around that directly led to the Lewinsky scandal and President Clinton’s impeachment.
In general, though, you can’t sue the President of the United States for action taken while in office. Nixon v. Fitzgerald was a Supreme Court case in the 1980s that found presidents are immune from civil liability for acts committed in office directly relating to being President of the United States. (The court was careful to mention presidents are not immune from criminal lawsuits for actions taken while in office. Remember, Richard Nixon was one of the defendants.)
Of course, things like that have not stopped John Boehner and the House of Representatives from voting to sue President Obama for what they claim is a breach of executive powers. (I gave a rundown of this here.)
So, in summary: sort of. You can sue the president for actions taken before office, but not for actions taken during office, unless its a criminal complaint.
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