In a pre-Westfall case (which might as well have motivated the 1988 law that increased Congresspersons' immunity against civil lawsuits), NYT reports (1987)
A Federal appeals court panel has ruled that a member of Congress may be sued for defamatory statements made in a letter to the executive branch even if considers the comments part of his official duties.
The 2-to-1 ruling Friday, written by Judge James L. Buckley of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, ordered the lower court to reconsider a case it had dismissed against Representative Don Sundquist, a Tennessee Republican.
The appeals court ruled that Mr. Sundquist's comments about a Tennessee lawyer in a 1985 letter to William French Smith, then the Attorney General, were not covered by the ''speech or debate'' clause in the Constitution. The clause protects members of Congress from legal action against remarks made in Congressional debate, committee work or in performing other legislative duties.
Judge Buckley, a former Republican Senator from New York, rejected what he said was an effort to extend the reach of official immunity to members of Congress. He wrote: ''We hold that members of Congress are not entitled to immunity for common law torts committed while acting within the scope of their official duties but outside the sphere protected by the speech or debate clause.''
What ultimately happened to this case against Don Sundquist in the aftermath? And if it is known, was this case relevant for the adoption of the 1988 Westfall Act? (The answer to the latter questions seems "no" because of Wesfall v. Erwin.)