CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Earlier tonight, in a brief submitted to the US First Court of Appeals, The United States Department of Justice took a strong position in favor of the plaintiffs in the case of Cushing et al v Packard, repudiating the doctrine of legislative immunity, as Speaker Packard is seeking to use it in this case to avoid the state's responsibility to obey the law.
House Democratic Leader Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), the lead plaintiff in the case, said: “Tonight‘s filing by the Justice Department in behalf of the United States of America, represents strong support of the position of the plaintiffs in this case, and firm rejection of the position of Speaker Packard that he is permitted, by virtue of his office, to ignore the duties and responsibilities of federal statute. We remain confident that the court of appeals will adopt the position urged by us, and by the Department of Justice and reaffirm that legislative members and staff enjoy the full protection of federal law.
“The Speaker had several opportunities to settle this matter which he did not see fit to take advantage of. The result is a legal position that is essentially an argument that he is above the law. We do not believe he is, and we do not believe that the court of appeals will so hold.”
Deputy Democratic Leader David Cote (D-Nashua), also a plaintiff, stated:
“The decision of the Department of Justice to support the plaintiffs illustrates the weakness of the position urged by Speaker Packard, which if adopted, would result in rendering the ADA a dead letter in a legislative context. We believe that position is wrong, and we are hopeful that the court will agree. Furthermore, we are pleased that the Department of Justice seeks to participate in oral arguments."