Kudos to state Senate President Robert Stivers for shooting down the notion of legislative immunity from a drunken-driving charge.
That the lawmaker taking cover behind legislative privilege is one of his fellow Republicans makes Stivers' stand all the more appreciated.
"No member of the General Assembly is above the law," Stivers, R-Manchester, said in a statement responding to attorney William E. Johnson's arguments on Sen. Brandon Smith's behalf.
Smith, R-Hazard, was cited Jan. 6, the first day of the session, in Franklin County for driving with a 0.088 percent blood alcohol level. The level for legally drunk is 0.08 or higher.
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Last week, Smith's attorney argued in court that the DUI arrest and charge were invalid because Section 43 of the Kentucky Constitution says "members of the General Assembly shall, in all cases except treason, felony, breach or surety of the peace, be privileged from arrest during their attendance on the sessions of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same."
The judge delayed the arraignment to consider the motion. But Stivers, an attorney, didn't need to take anything under advisement.
"While Kentucky's Constitution does provide for a limited form of legislative immunity, as does the United States Constitution and most state constitutions, it is clear that the immunity does not apply in this situation."
No, indeed. Rooted in the days when an English king just might lock up a dissident parliamentarian in the Tower of London, immunity was meant to protect lawmakers from arrest by repressive executives, not state troopers wielding breathalyzers.
And, certainly, drunken driving breaches the peace, to use the constitutional language.
Smith, in an interview with WYMT-TV, intimated he was targeted for arrest by someone who has "some sort of agenda."
Stivers pointed out that innocence is presumed unless guilt is proven through the legal process. He said he and others in the Senate were praying for Smith and his family.
But the Senate leader put the Senate's integrity above Smith's questionable claims, and that's exactly what he should have done.