Can you sue the US president?

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James Buchanan 139.6

The 15th president didn’t improve much from his predecessor. Most historians will recall that James Buchanan had made some lofty goals for himself as president. Buchanan promised to reach the great heights of George Washington during his presidency. James Buchanan joins the presidents who had an IQ of 139. Unfortunately, he didn’t quite get there.

James Buchanan

James Buchanan


7. Theodore Roosevelt Jr

Seen as a rugged outdoorsman, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, was Vice President of the US when President McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. After becoming president, Roosevelt advocated Progressive policies, essentially anti-corruption in nature, from which sprang his “Square Deal,” which involved conservation of natural resources, control of corporations and consumer protection. Following up, Roosevelt established numerous national parks, forests and monuments.

Then Roosevelt was elected to the presidency in 1904, but Congress blocked much of his proposed legislation. Interestingly, Roosevelt’s efforts to end the Russo-Japanese war helped him win the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906. Growing dissatisfied with the party politics of the era, which weakened the Republican Party, among other things, Roosevelt formed the so-called Bull Moose Party of 1912, a third party entity named when Roosevelt remarked at the time that he felt as “fit as a bull moose.”

Incredibly, while campaigning for the presidency in 1912, Roosevelt, while giving a speech, was shot in the chest by a saloonkeeper named John Schrank. As Schrank was apprehended, Roosevelt checked his wound and, realizing his lungs hadn’t been punctured, continued speaking for another 90 minutes while his shirt filled with blood, and then he finally let them take him to the hospital. Can anybody imagine this happening in the present day? Teddy Roosevelt was truly fit as a bull moose!

3. Thomas Jefferson

Founding Father of the US and an author of the Declaration of Independence – a true renaissance man as well – Thomas Jefferson served in many different offices: Vice President (under President John Adams), Secretary of State, Minister to France and Governor of Virginia. Jefferson was elected to the presidency in 1800, winning a second term as well. One of Jefferson’s great achievements was arranging the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, which included a cancellation of debts, a total deal worth a quarter billion in 2016 US dollars. This purchase doubled the size of the US and included some of the finest farmland on the planet.

Jefferson also arranged the famous Louis and Clark Expedition (1804–1806), which explored the vast lands of the Purchase. Jefferson also wrote Notes on the State of Virginia (1785), often considered the most important American book written before 1800. Interestingly, Jefferson died at 83, 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Also, in terms of intellect, Jefferson may have been the greatest president.

George Washington

History of Lawsuits Against a Sitting President

There is a long history of lawsuits against presidents — some come to fruition while others are refused a hearing by the Supreme Court.

These two cases have set much of the precedent for presidential lawsuits as they are today:

  • Nixon v. Fitzgerald is a case from 1982 where A. Earnest Fitzgerald brought a lawsuit against several government officials, including President Richard Nixon. The Supreme Court decided that presidents are not immune to criminal charges while in office.
  • In 1997, the Supreme Court heard Clinton v. Jones, which determined a sitting president could not be sued in a civil suit for official actions until the conclusion of their term. This gave President Bill Clinton temporary immunity (though the case was able to start pre-trial discovery). When he left office, Paula Jones was able to continue the sexual harassment lawsuit.

Lawsuits can also be used to stop a president-elect. In President Obama’s case, a 2009 lawsuit was filed in federal court claiming he was ineligible to be president.

Notable recent examples include President Trump being sued under the emoluments clause of the constitution, defamation, sexual harassment, and anti-abortion policies.

Can a Current President Sue Someone?

The same rules would apply that consider if a lawsuit would interfere with a president’s day-to-day job. If a President felt strongly about suing someone (such as when the Enquirer made libelous statements about President Bush), the case might be delayed until they were out of office.

The courts would likely be unsympathetic if a president brought a lawsuit against a person but later asked for a trial to wait until they left office. Extended stays of action and case scheduling can be arranged to keep a current president focused on their job, but it is uncommon for a president to sue someone while in office.

Lisa Kudrow, 154

Lisa Kudrow may have played the lovable airhead Phoebe Buffay on the popular sitcom Friends, but she’s nothing like her character. With an estimated IQ of 154, Kudrow earned a degree in biology from Vassar College, where she wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps and pursue headache research. She worked for her father’s staff for eight years before pursuing an acting career. We are definitely happy about her career change.

Lisa Kudrow, 154

Lisa Kudrow, 154


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