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Nixon v. Fitzgerald

The Lower Court Decisions

The lower federal courts dismissed Fitzgerald's action on the grounds that the president is immune from such suits. However, the court of appeals rejected Nixon's claim of immunity. Nixon then appealed this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Nixon v. Fitzgerald raised many important questions about the nature and extent of presidential immunity: questions concerning whether a president should be immune from actions taken in the course of performing his or her official duties, and whether this immunity should be absolute, or if there should be limits to when and if a president can be sued. Moreover, there were questions as to whether the claim to immunity was to be derived from the office of the president itself or from the functions the president performs. That is, whether some actions could be considered immune and others not immune, or whether a president simply should be shielded from all suits simply because of the distraction they might create. These were the questions the Supreme Court wrestled with in Nixon v. Fitzgerald.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988Nixon v. Fitzgerald - Significance, The Lower Court Decisions, The Court's Decision, The President Above The Law?