To the Editors:
It is a rather ludicrous commentary on our government that I find myself, a United States Senator, appealing to you to help the Senate defend itself against an attack by the Executive branch on the Senate’s most important prerogative—Congressional immunity.
In the New York Law Journal of March 31, I described the litigation arising from my making the Pentagon Papers available to the public. The lower courts upheld the immunity of me and my aide from grand jury inquiry. However, that protection was denied the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Beacon Press, which performed a valuable service to the people in publishing these public policy documents. Therefore, I appealed the case to the Supreme Court. The oral arguments recently were heard and the Court’s decision is expected to be handed down by June 15.
My legal costs thus far have exceeded $55,000 and the total bill is expected to reach about $70,000. Although the Senate agreed to support the principle of Congressional immunity, it has refused to share any of the legal costs. Since I obviously cannot bear such a financial burden alone, I must look to you and other concerned citizens to help pay it.
By defraying the cost themselves, citizens can demonstrate that they understand the real issue—the protection of Congress from prosecution by its supposedly co-equal branch, the Executive. When a final determination of this case is reached, I again will request the Senate to pay the legal costs. No contribution is too small; whatever is given will be more than the entire United States Senate was willing to contribute. Checks should be made out to: Mike Gravel, Congressional Defense Fund.
United States Senate