The Attorney General of the United States has delegated to the Office of Legal Counsel the responsibility for preparing the formal opinions of the Attorney General, providing opinions to federal agencies, and assisting the Attorney General in performing his or her function as legal adviser to the President. Writings of OLC and its predecessors date back to 1933, but OLC did not begin publishing its opinions until January 1977. In this first volume of a new supplemental series, OLC is publishing a number of opinions written between 1933 and 1977. The volume includes at least one opinion from each Assistant Attorney General during that era, and several from former Chief Justice William Rehnquist and current Associate Justice Antonin Scalia. Many of the opinions address legal issues related to significant historical events, including presidential action during World War II, the blockade of Cuba, U.S. incursions into Cambodia during the Vietnam War, and Watergate. And many involve legal issues that continue to have great relevance today, including appointment and removal of executive branch officers, executive privilege, the use of military force, and presidential control of communications during wartime.
Not all of the selections in this volume reflect current law or the current position of the Office. In some cases, they mark important signposts in the development of doctrine which have been superseded by more recent judicial or OLC opinions; in others, they shed light on important events in our history. In certain opinions, we have added editor's notes to indicate where the law may have changed. Notwithstanding that some of these opinions may no longer be good law, our hope is that all will prove to be of value to legal practitioners and legal historians. This volume was a labor of love and respect for the history, traditions, and people of OLC and the Department of Justice.