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Legislators are immune from deterrents to the uninhibited discharge of their legislative duty.
A civil rights litigant brought an action against a state legislator, state legislative committee and others, under 8 U.S.C.S. §§ 43 and 47(3), alleging that he had been deprived of rights guaranteed by the federal constitution when the legislator and committee summoned him before the committee and questioned him as to his activities after the litigant circulated a petition to persuade the state legislature not to appropriate further funds for a particular legislative committee. In the petition, the litigant charged that the committee used him as a tool in order to smear a local mayoral candidate. The district court dismissed the complaint and the litigant appealed. The lower court held that the complaint stated a cause of action against the committee and its members and they petitioned for writ of certiorari.
Were the defendants acting within the sphere of legitimate legislative activity and hence immune from liability?
Court held that under the circumstances of the case, the committee and its individual members were acting in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity in calling the litigant before it and examining him, and the civil rights statute did not create a civil liability for such conduct.