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Opinions

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Title Headnotes
Applicability of the Compact Clause to Use of Multiple State Entities Under the Water Resources Planning Act

Agreements between the federal government and a state are not subject to congressional consent under the Compact Clause, U.S. Const. Art. I, § 10, cl. 3; nor are all agreements between or among states so subject, but only those which encroach upon or interfere with the authority of the federal government.

States may engage cooperatively in a broad range of planning activities under the Water Resources Planning Act without obtaining congressional consent, so long as they impose no legal obligation or disability on governmental or private parties.

Congress has given advance consent to planning activities of the statutory river basin commissions, but not to those of interagency committees or multiple state entities.

Emergency Assistance to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in Case of a Work Stoppage

Under 31 U.S.C. § 685a(a), which authorizes federal agencies to provide services on a contractual basis to the District of Columbia government, the Attorney General may provide Bureau of Prisons personnel to the District of Columbia Department of Corrections in the event of a work stoppage by Department employees.

Adjusting the Census for Recent Immigrants: The Chiles Amendment

The Chiles Amendment authorizes the President to order a special census pursuant to 13 U.S.C. § 196, or to use some other method of obtaining a revised estimate of the population, whenever he determines that the population of a particular area is significantly affected by an influx of immigrants within six months of a regular decennial census date.

The Chiles Amendment was intended simply to remove an unfairly arbitrary element from the census, and not to serve as an indirect means of aiding jurisdictions affected by large numbers of recent immigrants. Accordingly, the entire population of significantly affected jurisdictions must be estimated, in order to take into account both the recent influx of immigrants and any offsetting recent population decline.

Litigating Authority of the Office of Federal Inspector, Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System

The statutory assignment to the Attorney General of plenary responsibility for the conduct of litigation involving the United States furthers a number of important policy goals, and exceptions to this plenary grant will be narrowly construed.

The Office of Federal Inspector (OFI) of the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation System has no general power to conduct litigation, although it is possible that OFI may have a degree of specific authority derived from the independent litigating authority of agencies whose enforcement powers were transferred to OFI by Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1979.

The Attorney General may not delegate or transfer his authority and responsibility to supervise and control litigation, by way of a memorandum of understanding or otherwise, to an agency, like OFI, that does not independently possess litigating authority; however, attorneys from OFI may participate in litigation as part of a team headed by attorneys from the Department of Justice.

Effect Within the United States of Iranian Decrees Confiscating the Shah’s Assets

Courts of the United States may give effect to Iranian decrees confiscating the property of the late Shah and his family, and will do so if the Executive stipulates, as an integral part of an international agreement with Iran, that such decrees will be given extraterritorial effect within the United States.

Congressional Authority to Modify an Executive Agreement Settling Claims Against Iran

Congress has plenary authority to modify or abrogate preexisting executive agreements or treaties for domestic law purposes, and could thus pass legislation reviving tort claims of American hostages and their families against Iran that might be extinguished by an executive agreement with Iran.

Limitations on Presidential Authority to Control Export of Certain Hazardous Substances

The regulatory scheme imposed by certain statutes regulating specific hazardous substances for purposes of health and safety does not preclude the President from imposing export controls on those substances for foreign policy purposes under the Export Administration Act (EAA).

Section 17(a) of the EAA does not supersede other laws imposing export controls, but expressly recognizes the effect of such other laws; controls under the EAA thus may exist side-by-side with controls imposed pursuant to other laws.

Insulating the vast range of products which are subject to domestic health and safety regulations from export controls would defeat the goals of the EAA relating to national security, foreign policy, and economic stability.

Exclusion of Medicine and Medical Supplies From Controls Under the Export Administration Act of 1979

Congress intended the exclusion in § 6(f) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 for medicine and medical supplies to be absolute, and did not intend to limit it by imposing a strict standard of human need.

The President has broad discretion to determine whether particular exports are medicines or medical supplies within the exclusion, subject only to the limitation suggested by the concept of basic human need.

Government Lawyers’ Pro Bono Activities in the District of Columbia

Attorneys employed by the federal government are barred by 18 U.S.C. § 205 from participating in any case in which the District of Columbia is a party or has a direct and substantial interest. Conclusion of 1970 opinion that federal attorneys may not represent even on a voluntary basis indigent persons asserting claims against the District, affirmed.

Presidential Authority to Settle Claims of the Hostages and Their Families

The President may agree to a settlement with Iran whereby any tort claims of the hostages and their families against Iran would be extinguished, without working a taking for a public purpose within the Just Compensation Clause of the Fifth Amendment.  This conclusion is reinforced by the difficulty of identifying loss to the hostages and their families as a result of a claims settlement effected to secure their release, and the unlikelihood of their being able to recover in tort against Iran in any event in light of the noncommercial tort provision in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1605(a)(5).

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