The United States Department of Justice Department of Justice Seal The United States Department of Justice
Search The Site
 
Opinions by Date and Title
Date Sorted DescendingTitleHeadnotes
2013
2013-August-23

Competitive Bidding Requirements Under the Federal-Aid Highway Program


(Posted 2014-March-13)

The competitive bidding requirement of 23 U.S.C. § 112 imposes, in addition to procedural rules dictating the process by which bids are awarded, a substantive limitation on state or local bidding requirements that are unrelated to the bidder’s performance of the necessary work.

Section 112’s competitive bidding requirement does not preclude any and all state or local bidding or contractual restrictions that have the effect of reducing the pool of potential bidders for reasons unrelated to the performance of the necessary work. Rather, section 112 affords the Federal Highway Administration discretion to assess whether a particular state or local requirement unduly limits competition.

Generally, state or local government requirements that eliminate or disadvantage a class of potential responsible bidders to advance objectives unrelated to the efficient use of federal funds or the integrity of the bidding process are likely to unduly impede competition in contravention of the substantive component of section 112’s competitive bidding requirement.

2012
2012-November-16Whether the United States Department of Labor Has the Authority to Control the Disclosure of Federal Employee Compensation Act Records Held by the United States Postal Service
(Posted 2013-July-19)

The Federal Employee Compensation Act gives the Department of Labor the authority to control and limit the disclosure of FECA records held by the United States Postal Service, and DOL's FECA regulations prohibit USPS from disclosing FECA records in a manner inconsistent with DOL's Privacy Act routine uses.

The Labor Department's regulatory regime for FECA records is consistent with and furthers the purposes of the Privacy Act.

Neither the Postal Reorganization Act nor the National Labor Relations Act authorizes USPS to control the disclosure of FECA records.

2012-June-19Assertion of Executive Privilege Over Documents Generated in Response to Congressional Investigation into Operation Fast and Furious
(Posted 2012-July-05)
Executive privilege may properly be asserted in response to a congressional subpoena seeking internal Department of Justice documents generated in the course of the deliberative process concerning the Department's response to congressional and related media inquiries into Operation Fast and Furious.
2012-May-29Duty to Report Suspected Child Abuse Under 42 U.S.C. § 13031
(Posted 2012-November-14)
Under 42 U.S.C. § 13031 – a provision of the Victims of Child Abuse Act of 1990 – all covered professionals who learn of suspected child abuse while engaged in enumerated activities and professions on federal land or in federal facilities must report that abuse, regardless of where the suspected victim is cared for or resides.
The fact that a patient has viewed child pornography may “give reason to suspect that a child has suffered an incident of child abuse” under the statute, and a covered professional is not relieved of an obligation to report the possible abuse simply because neither the covered professional nor the patient knows the identity of the child depicted in the pornography.
2012-April-03Whether Reservists Who Otherwise Qualify for Leave Under Both 5 U.S.C. § 6323(a) and 5 U.S.C. § 6323(b) Must Exhaust Available Leave Under Section 6323(b) Before Taking Leave Under Section 6323(a)
(Posted 2013-March-12)
A reservist who performs military service that qualifies for leave under both 5 U.S.C. §§ 6323(a) and 6323(b) may elect to take leave under section 6323(a) without first using all of his or her available leave under section 6323(b).
2012-March-27The Anti-Deficiency Act Implications of Consent by Government Employees to Online Terms of Service Agreements Containing Open-Ended Indemnification Clauses
(Posted 2012-November-15)
Traditional principles of contract law govern the standard for consent to an online terms of service agreement, and, as a result, consent to such an agreement turns on whether the web user had reasonable notice of and manifested assent to the online agreement.
A government employee with actual authority to contract on behalf of the United States violates the Anti-Deficiency Act by entering into an unrestricted, open-ended indemnification agreement on behalf of the government.
A government employee who lacks authority to contract on behalf of the United States does not violate the Anti-Deficiency Act by consenting to an agreement, including an agreement containing an unrestricted, open-ended indemnification clause, because no binding obligation on the government was incurred.
2012-March-05State and Local Deputation of Federal Law Enforcement Officers During Stafford Act Deployments
(Posted 2012-March-28)
Where federal law enforcement officers have been deployed pursuant to the Stafford Act and are properly carrying out federal disaster relief in a local community, they may accept deputation under state laws that expressly authorize them to make state law arrests, where such arrests would bear a logical relationship to or advance the purposes of the Stafford Act deployment.
2012-March-02Whether the General Services Administration May Proceed With an Assisted Acquisition for the Department of Veterans Affairs in Fiscal Year 2012 Using the Department's Fiscal Year 2009/2010 Funds
(Posted 2012-July-18)
The Department of Veterans Affairs properly obligated its FY 2009/2010 funds when it and the General Services Administration signed an interagency agreement in August 2010, and GSA may properly use those funds in FY 2012 to perform its obligations under the interagency agreement.
GSA may use those funds without running afoul of the requirement, developed by the Government Accountability Office, that servicing agencies acting under interagency agreements perform within a “reasonable time.”
2012-January-30State of Residence Requirements for Firearms Transfers
(Posted 2012-February-13)
Section 922(b)(3) of title 18, which forbids federal firearms licensees from selling or delivering any firearm to any person who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in . . . the State in which the licensee's place of business is located, cannot be interpreted to define “reside in . . . the State” differently for citizens and aliens.
2012-January-06Lawfulness of Recess Appointments During a Recess of the Senate Notwithstanding Periodic
Pro Forma Sessions
(Posted 2012-January-12)
The convening of periodic pro forma sessions in which no business is to be conducted does not have the legal effect of interrupting an intrasession recess otherwise long enough to qualify as a “Recess of the Senate” under the Recess Appointments Clause.  In this context, the President therefore has discretion to conclude that the Senate is unavailable to perform its advise-and-consent function and to exercise his power to make recess appointments.
2011
2011-November-01Whether Postal Employees Are Entitled to Receive Service Credit, for Purposes of Their Retirement Annuity Under the Federal Employees' Retirement System, for Periods of Employment During Which the United States Postal Service Has Not Made Its Required Employer Contributions
(Posted 2012-February-24)
The Office of Personnel Management may not address the United States Postal Service's failure to make statutorily required retirement contributions by denying its employees accrued service credit under the Federal Employees' Retirement System during their periods of qualifying federal employment.
2011-October-28Nonimmigrant Aliens and Firearms Disabilities Under the Gun Control Act
(Posted 2011-December-08)
The prohibition in 18 U.S.C. 922(g)(5)(B) applies only to nonimmigrant aliens who must have visas to be admitted to the United States, not to all aliens with nonimmigrant status.  The text of the statute forecloses the interpretation advanced by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in an interim final rule applying section 922(g)(5)(B) to all nonimmigrant aliens.
2011-September-19

Whether Proposals by Illinois and New York to Use the Internet and Out-of-State Transaction Processors to Sell Lottery Tickets to In-State Adults Violate the Wire Act


(Posted 2011-December-23)

Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a “sporting event or contest” fall outside the reach of the Wire Act.

Because the proposed New York and Illinois lottery proposals do not involve wagering on sporting events or contests, the Wire Act does not prohibit them.

2011-September-18

Unconstitutional Restrictions on Activities of the Office of Science and Technology Policy in Section 1340(a) of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011


(Posted 2011-September-19)

Section 1340(a) of the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 is unconstitutional as applied to certain activities undertaken pursuant to the President’s constitutional authority to conduct the foreign relations of the United States.

Most, if not all, of the activities of the Office of Science and Technology Policy that we have been asked to consider fall within the President’s exclusive power to conduct diplomacy, and OSTP’s officers and employees therefore may engage in those activities as agents designated by the President for the conduct of diplomacy, notwithstanding section 1340(a).

The plain terms of section 1340(a) do not apply to OSTP’s use of funds to perform its functions as a member of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

2011-June-20Constitutionality of Legislation Extending the Term of the FBI Director
(Posted 2011-June-22)
It would be constitutional for Congress to enact legislation extending the term of Robert S. Mueller, III, as Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
2011-June-03Applicability of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act's Notification Provision to Security Clearance Adjudications by the Department of Justice Access Review Committee
(Posted 2011-July-27)
The notification requirement in section 106(c) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act generally applies when the Department of Justice intends to use information obtained from electronic surveillance against an aggrieved person in an adjudication before the Access Review Committee concerning the Department’s revocation of an employee’s security clearance.
Compliance with the notification requirement in section 106(c) of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in particular Access Review Committee adjudications could raise as–applied constitutional questions if such notice would require disclosure of sensitive national security information protected by executive privilege.
2011-May-03Whether Bills May Be Presented by Congress and Returned by the President by Electronic Means
(Posted 2011-May-27)
The use of electronic means of presentment and return of bills is constitutionally permissible.
The statutes governing the presentment process could be read as encompassing electronic transmission, but that is not necessarily the most natural reading. In light of the novelty of electronic presentment and return, and the need to ensure that the President and Congress, as well as the public, share a common understanding of the means by which these fundamental steps in the lawmaking process may be carried out, we recommend that, before electronic presentment and return might be used, 1 U.S.C. 106, 106a, and 107 be amended to provide expressly for the permissibility of electronic presentment and that the President and Congress reach an agreement, whether by statute or other means, concerning the permissibility of electronic return of bills.
2011-April-08Authority to Employ White House Office Personnel Exempt From the Annual and Sick Leave Act Under 5 U.S.C. 6301(2)(x) and (xi) During an Appropriations Lapse
(Posted 2012-March-08)
White House officials who are exempt from the Annual and Sick Leave Act pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 6330(2)(x) and (xi) may continue to work during a lapse in the appropriations for their salaries.
2011-April-01Authority to Use Military Force in Libya
(Posted 2011-April-07)
The President had the constitutional authority to direct the use of military force in Libya because he could reasonably determine that such use of force was in the national interest.
Prior congressional approval was not constitutionally required to use military force in the limited operations under consideration.
2011-February-25Reimbursement or Payment Obligation of the Federal Government Under Section 313(c)(2)(b) of the Clean Water Act
(Posted 2011-March-18)
Section 313(c)(2)(B) of the Clean Water Act does not impose a specific-appropriation requirement for the payment of stormwater assessments. Federal agencies may pay appropriate stormwater assessments from annual,including current, lump-sum appropriations.

Updated: April 2014