Mark E. Coon

Document Type



Since the 1973 prosecution of incumbent Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, the U.S. Department of Justice has taken the position that sitting Vice Presidents are not constitutionally immune from criminal prosecution in the same way that sitting Presidents are. With the modern rise of prosecution and impeachment as weapons in the political arsenal, the Agnew precedent threatens to upset the constitutional balance of power because it makes Vice Presidents easily removable. This essay argues that the Agnew precedent is incorrect and that Vice Presidents are absolutely immune from prosecution while in office because of the Vice Presidency’s role in the system of checks and balances. Specifically, the Vice Presidency serves as a democratic constitutional check on the legislative impeachment power by preventing the legislature from ousting an elected administration through the impeachment and removal of just one official.