Congress Courts & Litigation

Appeals Court Blocks Justice Dept. Access to Scott Perry’s Phone Records

Katherine Pompilio
Wednesday, September 13, 2023, 3:05 PM
According to the panel, prosecutors’ attempts to access these records violates Perry’s immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause.

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On Sept. 13, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to block Justice Department prosecutors from accessing Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-Pa.) communications with other members of Congress as well as executive branch officials. 

According to the three-judge panel, prosecutors’ attempts to access these records—which contain conversations about the 2020 election certification vote and a vote on proposed election reform legislation—violates Perry’s immunity under the Speech or Debate Clause. 

Writing for the court, Judge Neomi Rao explained, 

Federal courts must determine the outer boundaries of the Speech or Debate Clause privilege. But when a Member engages in a legislative act, the court cannot carve out from the privilege certain topics of discussion by labeling them ‘merely incidental’ or by deeming them illegitimate…. For courts to pick and choose the scope of the privilege based on a free-floating evaluation of the proper objects of congressional deliberation would threaten the Speech or Debate Clause’s essential protection for legislative independence.

You can read the decision here or below:


Katherine Pompilio is an associate editor of Lawfare. She holds a B.A. with honors in political science from Skidmore College.

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