Court says presidents immune to lawsuits

The Supreme Court, settling a historic constitutional controversy over presidential immunity, ruled 5 to 4 Thursday that former President Richard Nixon cannot be sued for actions taken while in office.

The ruling was on a suit by Ernest Fitzgerald, a Pentagon official who sued Mr. Nixon claiming the President approved his ouster from the government for disclosing major cost overruns in construction of the C-5A transport plane.

The court said, ''Because of the singular importance of the president's duties, diversion of his energies by concern with private lawsuits would raise unique risks to the effective functioning of government.''

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