Court Countdown

Posted April 9, 2007 at 5:50pm

The stage is now set for a historic Supreme Court hearing to decide if Members of Congress can be sued for discrimination under the Congressional Accountability Act.

Former Senate staffer Brad Hanson originally sued then-Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) in 2003, alleging he was improperly fired after taking time off for surgery.

But the Office of the Senate Chief Counsel for Employment, which is defending Dayton, has fought the lawsuit ever since. In a Feb. 27 brief filed with the court, Senate Chief Counsel for Employment Jean Manning argues the Constitution’s Speech or Debate Clause provides Members with immunity for actions related to their official duties.

But in a brief filed April 3, Hanson’s attorneys argue against that claim, writing that routine personnel decisions should not be considered under the clause.

Oral arguments are scheduled for April 24, and Hanson will get some Congressional help in his effort.

In March, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) pushed through a resolution ordering the Senate legal counsel to file a friend of the court brief for Hanson. That brief was filed on April 3, the same day Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) filed their own friend of the court brief.

— Elizabeth Brotherton