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When former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones filed her complaint against Bill Clinton she joined a small group of women who have publicly accused men in high-profile positions of sexual harassment.

A classic "he said, she said" story? We may never know, if the president is able to argue successfully that his office shields him from liability for actions occurring prior to assuming it. On June 27, his lawyer, Robert Bennett, asked a federal court to delay action, and said he would be filing a separate motion in August on the issue.

The defense is based on the 1982 case of Nixon v. Fitzgerald, which conferred absolute immunity from lawsuits arising from the exercise of presidential power.

A better solution, says Georgetown law professor Susan Low Bloch, is granting the president "temporary immunity" instead, which would put Jones' lawsuit on hold until Clinton is out of office.

Publication Citation

80 A.B.A. J. 40 (August 1994)