The case of William Jefferson Clinton v. Paula Corbin Jones, being heard today by the Supreme Court, should proceed on schedule, says Douglas Kmiec, professor of constitutional law at Notre Dame.
“As someone who helped quash subpoenas issued against President Reagan in Iran-Contra, I presumably would support presidential immunity; I do not,” said Kmiec, a deputy attorney general in the Reagan administration. "I do hope that the base allegations against President Clinton prove to be untrue. No American wants to contemplate a president in such a tawdry mess.
“However, presidents are not above the law, and it is no violation of the separation of powers for the president to be held to answer, like every other citizen, for civil claims brought against him. The president has well-established immunity for official actions. This is as it should be and this is what permitted us to quash the subpoena issued for President Reagan. Presidents must be free from lawsuits generated by people unhappy with his foreign or domestic policy decisions. But no president is free to injure another, personally or economically, and not answer the alleged injury.
“The bottom line is this: As a factual matter, I hope the allegations are untrue. As a legal matter, the president has an obligation to defend himselfnow.”
For additional comment, contact Kmiec at (219) 631-6981.