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Constitutionality of the OLC Reporting Act of 2008

S. 3501, the “OLC Reporting Act of 2008,” which would require the Department of Justice to report to Congress on a wide range of confidential legal advice that is protected by constitutional privilege, is unconstitutional.

The bill raises very serious policy concerns because it would undermine the public interest in confidential advice and information sharing that is critical to informed and effective Government decisionmaking.

Requests for Information Under the Electronic Communications Privacy Act

The Federal Bureau of Investigation may issue a national security letter to request, and a provider may disclose, only the four types of information—name, address, length of service, and local and long distance toll billing records—listed in 18 U.S.C. § 2709(b)(1).

The term “local and long distance toll billing records” in section 2709(b)(1) extends to records that could be used to assess a charge for outgoing or incoming calls, whether or not the records are used for that purpose, and whether they are linked to a particular account or kept in aggregate form.

Before issuance of a national security letter, a provider may not tell the FBI whether that provider serves a particular customer or telephone number, unless the FBI is asking only whether the number is assigned, or belongs, to that provider.
 

Scope of Exemption Under Federal Lottery Statutes for Lotteries Conducted by a State Acting Under the Authority of State Law

The statutory exemption for lotteries “conducted by a State” requires that the State exercise actual control over all significant business decisions made by the lottery enterprise and retain all but a de minimis share of the equity interest in the profits and losses of the business, as well as the rights to the trademarks and other unique intellectual property or essential assets of the State’s lottery.

It is permissible under the exemption for a State to contract with private firms to provide goods and services necessary to enable the State to conduct its lottery, including management services, as discussed in the opinion.
 

Enforceability of Certain Agreements Between the Department of the Treasury and Government Sponsored Enterprises

The Amended and Restated Senior Preferred Stock Purchase Agreements between the United States Department of the Treasury and the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, according to their terms, would create rights enforceable through actions brought in the United States Court of Federal Claims in accordance with the ordinary rules and procedures governing litigation in that Court.

Applicability of 18 U.S.C. § 207(f) to Public Relations Activities Undertaken for a Foreign Corporation Controlled by a Foreign Government

A foreign corporation is a “foreign entity” under 18 U.S.C. § 207(f) if it exercises sovereign authority or functions de jure or de facto.

A former official’s proposed activities are not prohibited by section 207(f)(1) if the former official does not provide those services on behalf of a “foreign entity,” regardless of whether the former official’s services incidentally benefit the foreign entity’s interests.

Where the former official does provide services on behalf of a “foreign entity,” the proposed public relations and media activities would fall within the scope of section 207(f)(1) if the former official acts with the requisite intent to influence a decision of an officer or employee of the United States Government.

Scope of the Definition of “Variola Virus” Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004

The definition of “variola virus” in 18 U.S.C. § 175c does not include other naturally occurring orthopoxviruses, such as cowpox and vaccinia, but is rather limited to viruses that cause smallpox or are engineered, synthesized, or otherwise produced by human manipulation from the variola major virus or its components.

Assertion of Executive Privilege Concerning the Special Counsel’s Interviews of the Vice President and Senior White House Staff

It is legally permissible for the President to assert executive privilege in response to a congressional subpoena for reports of Department of Justice interviews with the Vice President and senior White House staff taken during the Department’s investigation by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into the disclosure of Valerie Plame Wilson's identity as an employee of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Assertion of Executive Privilege Over Communications Regarding EPA’s Ozone Air Quality Standards and California’s Greenhouse Gas Waiver Request

The President may lawfully assert executive privilege in response to congressional subpoenas seeking communications within the Executive Office of the President or between the Environmental Protection Agency and the EOP concerning EPA’s promulgation of a regulation revising national ambient air quality standards for ozone or EPA’s decision to deny a petition by California for a waiver from federal preemption to enable it to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.

Admissibility in Federal Court of Electronic Copies of Personnel Records

Federal official personnel and civil service retirement records that have been converted from paper to electronic format should be admissible in evidence in federal court under the Business Records Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1732, and should also qualify as “public records” admissible under Rule 1005 of the Federal Rules of Evidence.

Electronic versions of particular personnel records which, pursuant to statute or regulation, must be notarized, certified, signed, or witnessed, may be authenticated under Rules 901 and 902 of the Federal Rules of Evidence. Converting such documents to electronic format should not affect their admissibility under hearsay rules.

Authority of Environmental Protection Agency to Hold Employees Liable for Negligent Loss, Damage, or Destruction of Government Personal Property

The Environmental Protection Agency may hold its employees liable for the negligent loss, damage, or destruction of government personal property or for the unauthorized personal use of agency-issued cell phones.

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