Should Legislators have immunity from arrest and prosecution?
Recent events in the news surfaced which identified a fact little known about laws in over 40 states that give legislators immunity from arrest and prosecution. This fact in and of itself is contrary to the principle that no individual is above the law. Those who we elect to represent us whether local, state or federal should not be above the laws, rules or regulations they create. Legislators are like any other individual and as such they should be held accountable to the same laws that private citizens must follow. There are even reports that the federal government also has this provision in place though it has been reported that it has not been invoked much.
We are a country based on the principles written into our Constitution. These principles in many cases have been enacted to some degree in laws passed at the state and federal levels of government. The provisions within these laws identify the criteria which will cause an individual, business or organization to be in non-compliance. It is true there are some rules which our legislators must follow and they are part of the structure and policies of the legislative body in which they are a member. In some cases these have the impact of law and can lead to a number of penalties which may lead to a resignation dependent upon the violation.
Laws enacted for the country to follow must also be followed by our legislators. They are part of the country they represent and as such should be held accountable to the same laws we are as individuals. I am proud of our country and our laws are meant to be obeyed by all citizens and those who may be visiting from other countries. It is true that those representing other countries have diplomatic immunity to some extent but this does not mean the same level of immunity is applicable to those who represent us.
Laws should never be enacted for a specific group of individuals such as legislators which circumvent other laws in place. It is true there are cases where specific laws are in place to address certain groups of individuals but they do not or should not provide immunity to other laws which may affect them. This is where the difference exists. Laws should never provide immunity for any individual or group which is applicable to the whole country or state. It is hoped with the issue of legislative immunity now in the open it will prompt states to repeal the provisions in their applicable laws granting immunity from arrest and prosecution. Some may feel that I should identify these states and to that I say it would be inappropriate. Identifying some and not all the states involved with this issue would be wrong. While these laws are in place the criteria identified within each state may not necessarily be the same and there may be some exceptions to the immunity clause.