Early this morning, Bluestem posted that MN House research department does its homework on legislative immunity and bill passes anyway
That research (Bluestem includes a Scribd embed of the memo) revealed that an early 20th century U.S. Supreme Court ruling had found that constitutional immunity clauses for federal legislators did not apply to criminal charges but had been written into the U.S. Constitution to apply to the antiquated practice of civil arrest.
Moreover, in the two cases the researcher found where legislators had tried to play the "get out of jail free" cards for DUI stops, charges were filed.
This revelation goes against insinuations made to the media by students lobbying for the bill as a Concordia College class project that legislators currently serving had played the card.
On the floor, Mike Beard (R-Shakopee), who is retiring from the House at the end of this term, shared a story about a rumor that he was one of the lawmakers who'd used the card. Bluestem asked The Uptake for the clip, and the video news service has posted the clip as "Lawmaker "Torqued" About DWI Innuendo Surrounding "Get Out Of Jail Card."
Nice use of the word torqued.
Mike McIntee reports in The Uptake's description:
Rep. Mike Beard says he is "torqued" that his name has been dragged into the debate about an apparently false story about a lawmaker claiming constitutional immunity for a DWI.
Minnesota has a provision in its constitution that prevents lawmakers from being arrested and jail for many offenses while the legislature is in session. It doesn't prevent them from being charged and tried at a later time. The origin of the provision is murky, but was apparently to prevent police and judges from trying to influence the legislature.
Recently students have asked the legislature to include DWI offenses as one of the crimes that cannot be subject to that legislative immunity. And rumor has circulated that the Representative from Shakopee had recently used that immunity on a DWI offense. Beard says he's the only Representative from Shakopee and he had not used "the card".
Here is Mike Beard's floor statement:
Photo: A DWI stop. Bluestem thinks that clarifying the constitutional provision is a worthy thing (though the process of amending the Minnesota Constitution is another matter), since if notihing else, eliminating the possibility that the immunity can be used this way strips away another occasion for cynicism by youth and other citizens.
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