CLINTON v. JONES

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
95-1853
Petitioner 
Clinton
Respondent 
Jones
Advocates
(Argued the cause for the petitioner)
(Argued the cause for the respondent)
(On behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the petitioner)
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Facts of the Case 

Paula Corbin Jones sued President Bill Clinton. She alleged that while she was an Arkansas state employee, she suffered several "abhorrent" sexual advances from then Arkansas Governor Clinton. Jones claimed that her continued rejection of Clinton's advances ultimately resulted in punishment by her state supervisors. Following a District Court's grant of Clinton's request that all matters relating to the suit be suspended, pending a ruling on his prior request to have the suit dismissed on grounds of presidential immunity, Clinton sought to invoke his immunity to completely dismiss the Jones suit against him. While the District Judge denied Clinton's immunity request, the judge ordered the stay of any trial in the matter until after Clinton's Presidency. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal denial but reversed the trial deferment ruling since it would be a "functional equivalent" to an unlawful grant of temporary presidential immunity.

Question 

Is a serving President, for separation of powers reasons, entitled to absolute immunity from civil litigation arising out of events which transpired prior to his taking office?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Jones, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Article 1, Section 7, Paragraph 2: Separation of Powers

No. In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Constitution does not grant a sitting President immunity from civil litigation except under highly unusual circumstances. After noting the great respect and dignity owed to the Executive office, the Court held that neither separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high-level information can justify an unqualified Presidential immunity from judicial process. While the independence of our government's branches must be protected under the doctrine of separation of powers, the Constitution does not prohibit these branches from exercising any control over one another. This, the Court added, is true despite the procedural burdens which Article III jurisdiction may impose on the time, attention, and resources of the Chief Executive.

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CLINTON v. JONES. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 02 September 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1853>.
CLINTON v. JONES, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1853 (last visited September 2, 2014).
"CLINTON v. JONES," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed September 2, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1853.