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Opinions by Date and Title
Date Sorted AscendingTitleHeadnotes
1961
1961-May-11

Authority of the President to Reassign the Chairmanship of the Federal Power Commission

The President has the power to remove the commissioner now serving as Chairman of the Federal Power Commission and reassign the chairmanship to another commissioner, and if the matter were to be litigated by the commissioner following his involuntary removal from chairmanship, the President’s power to remove him would probably, but not certainly, be sustained.

1961-October-10

Lobbying by Executive Branch Personnel

Title 18, section 1913 of the U.S. Code does not bar conversations which a Peace Corps employee had with certain members of Congress at the direction of the Director of the Peace Corps in an attempt to enlist their support for a bill to establish the Peace Corps on a statutory basis.

A literal interpretation of 18 U.S.C. § 1913, which would prevent the President or his subordinates from formally or informally presenting his or his administration’s views to the Congress, its members, or its committees regarding the need for new legislation or the wisdom of existing legislation, or which would prevent the administration from assisting in the drafting of legislation, would raise serious doubts as to the constitutionality of that statute. As so interpreted, it would seriously inhibit the exercise of what is now regarded as a basic constitutional function of the President concerning the legislative process.

1962
1962-February-26

Authority of Congress to Regulate Wiretapping by the States

Congress has authority under the Commerce Clause to regulate state wiretapping practices by prescribing a rule of evidence in state courts, limiting the authority of state officials to tap wires and to disclose and use information thereby obtained, prescribing the grounds and findings on which a state court may issue wiretap orders, and directing state courts to file reports with federal officials.

1962-August-30

Authority Under International Law to Take Action If the Soviet Union Establishes Missile Bases in Cuba

In the event that missile bases should be established in Cuba by the Soviet Union, international law would permit use by the United States of relatively extreme measures, including various forms and degree of force, for the purpose of terminating or preventing the realization of such a threat to the peace and security of the western hemisphere.

An obligation would exist to have recourse first, if time should permit, to the procedures of collective security organizations of which the United States is a member.

The United States would be obliged to confine any use of force to the least necessary to the end proposed.

1962-October-19

Legal and Practical Consequences of a Blockade of Cuba

The President has the power to establish a blockade of Cuba under the laws of the United States without further congressional action.

A blockade may be unilaterally established by the United States under international law but its establishment may be questioned within the Organization of American States and the United Nations. In addition, such a blockade could be regarded by Cuba and other Soviet Bloc nations as an act of war.

1963
1963-May-10

Proposal That the President Accept Honorary Irish Citizenship

Acceptance by the President of honorary Irish citizenship would fall within the spirit, if not the letter, of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

The procedure which has developed under the constitutional provision and its implementing statute would permit the President to participate in the formal ceremonies, accept the written evidence of the award and have it deposited with the Department of State, subject to the subsequent consent of Congress.

Even if Congress does not enact consenting legislation, the President could probably have the document conferring honorary Irish citizenship delivered to him by the Department of State after he leaves the White House.

1963-December-26

Providing Government Films to the Democratic National Committee or Congressmen

Government motion picture films may be made available to the Democratic National Committee or congressmen when public release is authorized by statute.

In the absence of statutory authority, government films may be made available to the Committee or congressmen on a revocable loan basis if a public interest can be shown to justify such loan and if the films are available equally to other private organizations.

It would be improper for any government agency to produce a film for the specific purpose of making it available to the Democratic National Committee or to congressmen.

1964
1964-July-01

Use of Marshals, Troops, and Other Federal Personnel for Law Enforcement in Mississippi

The problems of using large numbers of federal civilian law enforcement personnel in Mississippi are more practical than legal. So long as they confine themselves to investigation and prosecution of federal crimes, there is no legal problem. The practical problem is whether their presence serves to aggravate the emotions of the populace or alienate local law enforcement officials.

On the factual assumption that there is a complete breakdown of state law enforcement as a result of Klan activity and Klan connections with local sheriffs and deputies, the President could, as a legal matter, invoke the authority of sections 332 and 333 of title 10 to use military troops in Mississippi. There is considerable information available that could be used to support that assumption as to some areas in Mississippi. But in view of the extreme seriousness of the use of those sections, the government should have more evidence than it presently has of the inability of state and local officials to maintain law and order—as a matter of wisdom as well as of law.

1967
1967-October-03

Carriage of Firearms by the Marshal, Deputy Marshals, and Judges of the Customs Court

The Marshal and Deputy Marshals of the Customs Court are not authorized by 18 U.S.C. § 3053 to carry firearms.

Neither the official duties of the Marshal, as described by 28 U.S.C. § 872 and Rule 19 of the Rules of the Customs Court, nor the official duties of the Judges of the Customs Court would appear to necessitate the carriage of firearms.

If the Customs Court finds it necessary to rely solely on its Marshal to police its quarters, it would probably have inherent authority to authorize the Marshal and Deputies to carry arms; however, there would be no basis for assuming inherent authority in the Court to authorize possession of arms by its Judges.

A state could not constitutionally require a federal official whose duties necessitate carrying firearms to obtain a firearms license.

1969
1969-February-27

Constitutionality of “No Appropriation” Clause in the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act

A “no appropriation” clause in the Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Act, requiring approval of a construction project by the appropriate committees of the Senate and House of Representatives before Congress may enact appropriations legislation for the project, is constitutional.


Updated: April 2014