Office of Legal Counsel Senate

When Congress created the Office of the Attorney General in the Judicial Act of 1789, it gave the attorney general the power to advise the president and executive agencies on legal matters. The Attorney General has now delegated this authority to the Office of the Legal Counsel, which provides legal advice upon request for expertise. This council — which binds executive agencies unless overturned by the attorney general or president — and the attorney general`s opinions together, as former OLC representative John McGinnis put it, « constitute most of the official interpretations of the Constitution and statutes outside the volumes of federal court reporters. » Establishing congressional counterparts at the OLC as departments within the Office of the House Counsel General and the Office of the Senate Legal Counsel — or simply giving the House Counsel General and Senate Legal Counsel new powers to perform that function — would expand the existing legal support architecture, rather than building new structures. This option would also include the legal analysis necessary for both litigation and the issuance of advisory opinions in the same institution, and would create a clear home in both chambers to analyze the scope and constitutional basis of Congressional powers. However, in the absence of substantial increases in staff, this addition may impose a heavy burden on both offices. The Office is headed by the Legal Counsel of the Senate and the Deputy Legal Counsel, appointed by the Speaker pro tempore of the Senate on the recommendation of the majority and minority leaders in the Senate.5 The professional staff consists of an Assistant General Counsel, three lawyers and support staff. The office reports to the Joint Leadership Group and functions as a non-partisan office that serves as an institution for the Senate. In May 2005, during President George W. Bush`s second term, a series of similar memos on torture were endorsed by Steven G. Bradbury, who served as acting head of the OLC from February 2005 until the end of President Bush`s second term. Bradbury was first formally appointed on June 23, 2005, and then reappointed several times due to Senate inaction.

His position became a political sticking point between the Republican president and the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress, when Democrats claimed Bradbury was illegal in that position, while Republicans argued that Democrats were using his nomination to score political points.[15] [16] [17] [18] A statement from the Government Accountability Office concluded that his status did not violate the Federal Vacancy Reform Act of 1998. [19] The Office provides legal assistance and representation to senators, committees, public servants and Senate staff in their official duties. The statutory tasks of the Bureau are as follows: A joint office may also not be feasible given the different institutional interests of the House of Representatives and the Senate and the historical rivalry between the chambers. There is a well-known saying in the House of Representatives that if the other party is the opposition, the Senate is the enemy. This spirit seems to have stimulated, in part, the House of Representatives` rejection of the Office of the Congressional Legal Counsel proposed in the Senate version of the Government Ethics Act. Former House General Counsel Steven Ross identified the basis for the House of Representatives` rejection of the post as « the rivalry between the chambers and the fact that the House does not want its business to be tied to the Senate. » And Stanley Brand, another former House attorney general, shared that the House feared it was « getting a second fiddle. » However, a detailed analysis by law professors Jesse Cross and Abbe Gluck highlights how other nonpartisan interchamber bodies — such as the Congressional Research Service, the GAO, and the Congressional Budget Office — have successfully served and strengthened Congress as an institution by providing « the specialized expertise that helps enable congressional legislation. » A joint office serving both Houses and producing legal opinions on behalf of the Legislative Assembly would be the most direct analogue of the OCOL. Such an office, however, would raise both constitutional and practical issues, many of which were discussed in Congress and the executive branch when lawmakers considered creating the Joint Office of the Congressional Legal Counsel in the 1970s. In a memorandum at the time, the Office of the Legal Counsel argued that there were compelling reasons for not allowing a single office to articulate unified legal positions of Congress, including the fact that the creation of a joint office to represent separate chambers of Congress could violate the authors` intent to fragment legislative power by creating a bicameral institution. The Office of the Advocate General of the Senate is located in Room 642 of the Senate Hart Office Building. Requests for assistance can be made in person, in writing, by telephone (4-4435) or by fax (4-3391). For more information on the Office`s policies, procedures and services, visit the Office`s website in Although the Senate supported the creation of the joint office and included provisions in the government`s version of the ethics bill, the House of Representatives rejected the proposal.

Lawmakers would have feared that a shared office would favor the interests of the Senate over those of the House of Representatives. The Congressional Research Service also wrote that House conference participants « perceive the House and Senate as slightly different legal concerns, » making a shared office unsuited to their respective needs. The Office of the Congressional Legal Counsel passed away as a result during the conference. During President George W. Bush`s first term, Deputy Attorney General John Yoo and Deputy Attorney General Jay S. To be successful, a new congressional legal department needs a clearly defined role that fits into the Congress` existing legal support architecture. a carefully designed structure; as well as the judicial authorities, staff and resources necessary for the fulfilment of their mandate. In the absence of a legislative equivalent to the OLC, these legal functions, various functions exercised by congressional committees, and certain powers exercised by individual members of Congress provide the legislature with the tools it currently uses to challenge the views of the OLC that undermine or compromise the powers of Congress. Some of these instruments exist to ensure a certain outcome in the world, such as the adoption of laws that close a loophole exploited in the text of the law, the repeal of an OLC notice, or a court decision that annuls the legal theory of the OLC.

Other tools allow lawmakers to question the OLC`s analysis and offer an opposing legal perspective in hopes of shaping public, judiciary, and congressional views of the law. A number of different structural configurations may well serve a congressional counterpart at OLC. These include the creation of a joint office for the entire Congress, independent offices in each chamber, or offices hosted by the Office of the General Counsel of the House and the Office of the Legal Counsel of the Senate. Each option has advantages and disadvantages that the GAO should explore further. While the creation of independent, impartial offices in both chambers or the placement of congressional colleagues in the Office of the House Counsel General and the Office of the Senate Legal Counsel would neutralize the issues raised by a joint office, they raise their own questions. The first question concerns the extent of their powers. While the OLC prepares binding opinions for executive agencies, House-specific congressional colleagues can only take legal positions on behalf of part of a department.