Is the Vice President a Legislative Officer?

In February, 2023, former Vice President Mike Pence invoked the Speech or Debate Clause to challenge a subpoena from the Special Counsel. I explained that, as a matter of text, this argument didn't fly. The Speech or Debate refers to "Senators and Representatives." The Vice President is the President of the Senate, but is not a Senator. However, there are a string of precedents which could support a more functional reading of the Speech of Debate Clause. And, in June 2023, Judge Boasberg found that Vice President Pence received some protections under the Speech or Debate Clause for his role on January 6. I did not find that decision persuasive as a textual matter, but there is some precedent on point that the court followed.

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Part III-B-2 of Trump v. United States reminded me of Pence's case. Here, Chief Justice Roberts discussed whether President Trump's communications with Vice President Pence leading up to, and during, January 6, would be immune from prosecution.

To be sure, the President has an interest in legislation that is being considered in the Senate. And, as President of the Senate, the Vice President plays a unique role in that process. If the Senate is evenly divided, the Vice President can cast a tie-breaking vote. Chief Justice Roberts explains that with respect to legislation, the President has an important role in having communications with the Vice President.

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