The OLC
Astrid Da Silva

The OLC's Opinions

Opinions published by the OLC, including those released in response to our FOIA lawsuit

This Reading Room is the most comprehensive public database of opinions written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It contains the approximately 1,400 opinions published by the OLC in its online database and the opinions produced in Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the Knight Institute, including opinions about the Pentagon Papers, the Civil Rights Era, and the War Powers Act. It also contains indexes of all unclassified OLC opinions written between 1945 and February 15, 1994. Those indexes are also available as a comprehensive list here and in .csv format here.

The Knight Institute will continue updating the reading room with new records. To get alerts when the OLC publishes a new opinion in its database, follow @OLCforthepeople on Twitter.

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  • Censorship of Transmission of Trotzky Speech From Mexico

    The Federal Communications Commission does not have statutory authority to censor the telephone transmission from Mexico into the United States of a speech by Leon Trotzky. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/20656/download.

    2/8/1937

  • Authority of the Federal Communications Commission to Deny a Broadcast License to a Newspaper Owner

    The Federal Communications Commission does not have authority under the Communications Act of 1934 to refuse to grant broadcasting licenses on the ground that the ownership of the proposed facilities is in, or in common with, a newspaper. It is doubtful that Congress has the power to broaden the Act to provide the FCC with such authority. Such a provision would not violate the First Amendment clauses protecting the freedom of speech and of the press, but it would probably be held arbitrary and violative of the Fifth Amendment. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/19186/download.

    1/6/1937

  • Filling the Vacancy Following the Death of the Secretary of War

    The performance of the duties of the Secretary of War by an acting secretary may not extend beyond thirty days from the date of the death of the late Secretary of War, and it will be necessary for a new Secretary of War to be appointed in accordance with the provisions of the Appointments Clause of the Constitution to perform those duties after that date. There is some doubt whether the duties specifically imposed by Congress upon the Secretary of War may be performed by the President, as Commander in Chief of the Army, or by any other person not serving as the Secretary of War. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/20651/download.

    9/21/1936

  • Removal of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce by the Appointment of a Successor

    The removal from office of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce can be properly effected merely by the appointment of a successor by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/20646/download.

    6/10/1935

  • Legality of an Executive Order Requiring Executive Departments and Independent Establishments to Make Monthly Financial Reports

    Although the regulations prescribed by the proposed executive order, requiring executive departments and independent establishments to provide the Secretary of the Treasury with monthly financial reports, are not expressly authorized by any statute, the President has authority to issue the order by virtue of his inherent power as Chief Executive. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/19181/download.

    9/25/1934

  • Exercising the Pocket Veto

    When the President wishes to disapprove a bill, and Congress's adjournment has prevented the President's return of the bill, the safer course for the President to exercise his power of disapproval is through a pocket veto, instead of endorsing the bill with the word "disapproved" and the President's signature. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/20641/download.

    6/26/1934

  • Constitutionality of Legislation to Confer Citizenship Upon Albert Einstein

    Congress has the authority to enact a law granting citizenship to Albert Einstein. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/19176/download.

    4/9/1934

  • Whether a Three-Day Recess by One Chamber of Congress Constitutes an Adjournment for Purposes of the Pocket Veto Clause

    It is doubtful that a three-day recess by the Senate, with the House continuing in session, constitutes an adjournment by Congress that would "prevent [the] Return" of a bill that has been presented to the President under the Pocket Veto Clause of the Constitution. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/file/20636/download.

    3/16/1934

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