The OLC
Astrid Da Silva

The OLC's Opinions

Opinions published by the OLC, including those released in response to our FOIA lawsuit

This Reading Room is a comprehensive public database of opinions written by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). It contains the approximately 1,400 opinions published by the OLC in its online database and the opinions produced in Freedom of Information Act litigation brought by the Knight Institute, including opinions about the Pentagon Papers, the Civil Rights Era, and the War Powers Act. It also contains indexes of all unclassified OLC opinions written between 1945 and February 15, 1994. Those indexes are also available as a comprehensive list here and in .csv format here.

The Knight Institute will continue updating the reading room with new records. To get alerts when the OLC publishes a new opinion in its database, follow @OLCforthepeople on Twitter.

Showing 8190 of 2183

  • Application of the Hyde Amendment to Federal Student-Aid Programs

    The Hyde Amendment in the Department of Education's annual appropriations legislation for fiscal years 2020 and 2021 applies to the funding in that legislation for Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Opportunity Grants, Scholarships for Veteran's Dependents, and Federal Work-Study Programs. But additional sources of federal funding for these programs provided in other statutes are not subject to the Hyde Amendment. Federal student-aid funding subject to the Hyde Amendment remains so after it is paid to higher-education institutions for disbursement. These institutions must therefore comply with the Hyde Amendment in expending such funds. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355946/download.

    1/16/2021

  • Home Confinement of Federal Prisoners After the COVID-19 Emergency

    The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act authorizes the Director of the Bureau of Prisons to place prisoners in home confinement only during the Act's covered emergency period and when the Attorney General finds that the emergency conditions are materially affecting BOP's functioning. Should that period end, or should the Attorney General revoke the finding, the Bureau would be required to recall the prisoners to correctional facilities unless they are otherwise eligible for home confinement under 18 U.S.C. § 3624(c)(2). BOP's authority under 18 U.S.C. § 3621(a) and (b) does not provide an alternative basis for authorizing continued home confinement for prisoners ineligible for continuing home confinement under section 3624(c)(2). The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355886/download.

    1/15/2021

  • Religious Seasonal Decorations in Federal Government Buildings

    The Public Buildings Service of the General Services Administration may, consistent with fiscal law and the First Amendment's Establishment Clause, broaden its policy governing the purchase and display of seasonal decorations in the public spaces of federal properties to allow for the display of religiously significant seasonal decorations that are reasonably calculated to improve employee morale. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355846/download.

    1/15/2021

  • Responsibility for Electronic Presidential Records on Hardware of the Executive Office of the President After a Presidential Transition

    Under the Presidential Records Act, the Archivist of the United States assumes responsibility for the custody and control of, and access to, an outgoing President's electronic presidential records that temporarily remain on Executive Office of the President hardware after the end of the outgoing President's term. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355841/download.

    1/15/2021

  • Sex Segregation in Youth Rodeo Events Under Title IX Regulations

    The maintenance of separate boys and girls divisions in rodeo competitions offered by the South Dakota 4-H Youth Development Program is authorized by the competitive-skill exception contained in the Title IX implementing regulation at 7 C.F.R. § 15a.450(b), but not by the contact-sport exception contained in that regulation. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355836/download.

    1/13/2021

  • Congressional Oversight of the White House

    Congressional oversight of the White House is subject to greater constitutional limitations than oversight of the departments and agencies of the Executive Branch, in light of the White House staff's important role in advising and assisting the President in the discharge of his constitutional responsibilities, the need to ensure the independence of the Presidency, and the heightened confidentiality interests in White House communications. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355831/download.

    1/8/2021

  • OLC FOIA Interim Response Letter

    10/27/2020

  • Executive Branch Participation in the Cyberspace Solarium Commission

    In our tripartite constitutional structure, any commission performing federal functions must reside within a single one of the three branches of government. The Cyberspace Solarium Commission is properly viewed as a Legislative Branch entity, because congressional appointees compose the majority of the Commission's membership, the Commission exercises the investigative authorities of a congressional committee, and the Commission's ultimate mission is to advise Congress. The Executive Branch officials serving on the Commission should act with one unified voice, subject to executive supervision, in advising the Commission and should maintain the confidentiality of Executive Branch information when sharing their information and expertise with the Commission. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1355826/download.

    10/9/2020

  • Reimbursing the Attorney's Fees of Current and Former Federal Employees Interviewed as Witnesses in the Mueller Investigation

    The Department of Justice Representation Guidelines authorize, on a case-by-case basis, the reimbursement of attorney's fees incurred by a current or former federal government employee interviewed as a witness in the Mueller Investigation under threat of subpoena about information the person acquired in the course of his government duties. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1347786/download.

    10/7/2020

  • Congressionally Mandated Notice Period for Withdrawing from the Open Skies Treaty

    In establishing a mandatory waiting period for withdrawing from a treaty, section 1234(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 unconstitutionally interferes with the President's exclusive authority to execute treaties and to conduct diplomacy. The OLC does not provide release dates for its opinions, so the release date listed is the date on which the opinion was authored. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/file/1348136/download.

    9/22/2020

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