The Attorney General has directed the Office of Legal Counsel to publish selected opinions for the convenience of the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branches of the government, and of the professional bar and the general public. The authority of the Office of Legal Counsel to render legal opinions derives from the authority of the Attorney General. Under the Judiciary Act of 1789, the Attorney General was authorized to render opinions on questions of law when requested by the President and the heads of Executive Branch departments. This authority is now codified at 28 U.S.C. §§ 511–513. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 510, the Attorney General has delegated to the Office of Legal Counsel responsibility for preparing the formal opinions of the Attorney General, rendering opinions and legal advice to the various Executive Branch agencies, assisting the Attorney General in the performance of his function as legal adviser to the President, and rendering opinions to the Attorney General and the heads of the various organizational units of the Department of Justice. 28 C.F.R. § 0.25.
This web site includes Attorney General and Office of Legal Counsel opinions that the Office has determined are appropriate for publication. In addition to publishing the individual opinions in a sortable table on the Opinions by Date and Title page, the Office publishes its opinions in traditional book series. Volumes 1–35 of the primary book series, Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel (Op. O.L.C.), contain the official versions of opinions for the years 1977 to 2011 and are available in PDF form on the Opinions by Volume page. Volume 1 of the supplemental book series, Supplemental Opinions of the Office of Legal Counsel (Op. O.L.C. Supp.), contains additional opinions dating from the origins of the Office in the 1930s and is also available in PDF form on the Opinions by Volume page. The purposes of the supplemental series are to fill gaps in the historical record and to make available materials that may not have been appropriate to release publicly when issued to the client but with the passage of time have become publishable. The published opinions of the Office are also available on Westlaw and LEXIS.
The opinions on this web site are arranged—but not necessarily added to the site—in the order that they were signed.
The Office's Electronic Reading Room includes certain materials, including legal opinions, that have not been selected for official publication but have nonetheless been released as a matter of discretion and posted publicly because they are the subject of repeated requests or may be of public or historical interest.