The OLC

The OLC's Opinions

Documents released in our FOIA lawsuit for OLC legal opinions issued prior to 1994

This Reading Room contains all of the documents produced to date in Francis v. Dep’t of Justice, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit the Knight Institute filed on behalf of five scholars, Campaign for Accountability, and the Institute on August 21, 2019, seeking formal written opinions issued by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) prior to August 21, 1994.

The OLC is a component of the Department of Justice that issues legal opinions that bind federal agencies and officials on matters of significant public concern. In the past, the OLC has avoided disclosing its opinions under the Freedom of Information Act by invoking a privilege that protects government deliberations. In 2016, Congress amended FOIA to eliminate that privilege for records over 25 years old. This lawsuit takes advantage of that amendment.

On April 28, 2020, the OLC released to us its first set of documents in response to our request—96 unclassified legal opinions from 1974. We will publish additional documents here as we receive them.

This FOIA litigation is part of the Knight Institute's broader effort to vindicate the public’s right of access to the OLC’s formal legal opinions. In another case, Campaign for Accountability v. DOJ, the Institute has argued that FOIA requires the OLC to publish its legal opinions presumptively, even in the absence of any FOIA request seeking their release.

 

Showing 110 of 1947

  • Authority of the President to Prospectively Appoint a Supreme Court Justice

    If the Senate votes to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the President may complete her appointment to the Supreme Court by signing her commission before Justice Breyer's resignation takes effect. The original opinion is available at https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/1494816/download.

    4/15/2022

  • Index of unclassified OLC opinions from January 1, 1988 to February 15, 1994

    The OLC disclosed this index—of unclassifed OLC legal opinions from January 1, 1988 to February 15, 1994—to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University as part of the settlement of Francis v. DOJ.

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1993 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1993 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1990 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1990 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1992 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1992 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1991 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1991 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of unclassified OLC legal opinions written between January 1, 1994 and February 15, 1994

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in the first six weeks of 1994 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1988 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1988 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1989 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1989 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Effect of 2020 OLC Opinion on Possible Congressional Action Regarding Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment

    A 2020 opinion of the Office of Legal Counsel that addressed the legal status of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment is not an obstacle either to Congress's ability to act with respect to ratification of the ERA or to judicial consideration of questions regarding the constitutional status of the ERA. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1466036/download.

    1/26/2022