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Local and State Legislators Entitled to Immunity

Local legislators, like state legislators, are absolutely immune from suit under 1983 for their "legislative activity." Although the distinction is not made completely clear, apparently this holding applies to personal liability for damages; injunctive claims are not mentioned.

Whether an activity is legislative does not depend on the legislators' motive or intent but on the nature of the act. Voting for an ordinance is "quintessentially legislative." An executive who proposes a budget and signs an ordinance is also acting legislatively. The Court does not decide "whether the formally legislative character of petitioners' actions is alone sufficient to entitle petitioners to legislative immunity," since the ordinance at issue--abolishing a program and terminating a position--"bore all the hallmarks of traditional legislation." 118 S.Ct. at 973. See: Bogan v. Scott-Harris, 118 S.Ct. 966 (1998).

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Related legal case

Bogan v. Scott-Harris