Opinions

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Title Headnotes
Authority of the President to Blockade Cuba

Under international law, the President may institute a blockade of Cuba as an incident to a state of war, and conceivably a blockade could also be justified as a necessary measure of defense.

The legality of the blockade could probably be tested by Cuba, by other countries, and by their nationals in the courts of the United States, and Cuba and other countries could raise the legality issue before the United Nations and the Organization of American States. It is not clear whether this issue could be raised before the International Court of Justice.

Authority of the President to Designate Another Member as Chairman of the Federal Power Commission

While a substantial argument can be made to support the President’s authority to change the existing designation of the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission and to designate another member of that agency as Chairman, sufficient doubt exists so as to preclude a reliable prediction as to the result should the matter be judicially tested.

Apparently the only remedies the present Chairman would have, if his designation should be recalled and another member of the Commission designated as Chairman, would be to bring an action in the nature of quo warranto or sue for the additional $500-a-year annual salary of the Chairman in the Court of Claims. Since the Chairman has no functions additional to those of any other commissioner affecting parties appearing before the Commission, their rights could not be affected even if he should win such a suit.

Participation of the Vice President in the Affairs of the Executive Branch

There is no general bar, either of a constitutional or statutory nature, against the President’s transfer of duties to the Vice President; however, where, by the nature of the duty or by express constitutional or statutory delegation, the President must exercise individual judgment, the duty may not be transferred to anyone else.

In foreign relations, at the will and as the representative of the President, the Vice President may engage in activities ranging into the highest levels of diplomacy and negotiation and may do so anywhere in the world.

In matters of domestic administration, the nature and number of the Vice President’s executive duties are, as a practical matter, within the discretion of the President, with the recent and important exception of statutory membership on the National Security Council. Since the Vice President is not prevented either by the Constitution or by any general statute from acting as the President’s delegate, the range of transferrable duties would seem to be co-extensive with the scope of the President’s power of delegation.

Intervention by States and Private Groups in the Internal Affairs of Another State

It would appear to be a violation of international law relating to neutrality if a neutral state permits the launching of an attack by organized armed forces from within its borders, permits the passage of organized armed forces through its territory, or permits armed forces to be organized and trained for such purpose within its borders.

There would appear to be no violation of international law where a neutral state permits the mere provision of arms by private parties, even the stockpiling of arms, as long as they remain within the control of private groups rather than belligerent parties, or permits volunteers to be recruited, assembled, and perhaps even trained, so long as this does not approach the point of an organized military force.

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.

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.

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