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 the most 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 110 of 2183

  • Intergovernmental Immunity for the Department of Veterans Affairs and Its Employees When Providing Certain Abortion Services

    The rule issued by the Department of Veterans Affairs on Reproductive Health Services is a lawful exercise of the VA's authority. States may not impose criminal or civil liability on VA employees--including doctors, nurses, and administrative staff--who provide or facilitate abortions or related services in a manner authorized by federal law, including VA's rule. The Supremacy Clause bars state officials from penalizing VA employees for performing their federal functions, whether through criminal prosecution, license revocation proceedings, or civil litigation.

    9/21/2022

  • Use of the HEROES Act of 2003 to Cancel the Principal Amounts of Student Loans

    The Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, Pub. L. No. 108-76, 117 Stat. 904, grants the Secretary of Education authority to reduce or eliminate the obligation to repay the principal balance of federal student loan debt, including on a class-wide basis in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, provided all other requirements of the statute are satisfied.

    8/24/2022

  • Application of the Assimilative Crimes Act to Conduct of Federal Employees Authorized by Federal Law

    Federal employees performing their duties in a manner authorized by federal law, while on a federal enclave within a state that criminalizes such authorized conduct, would not violate the Assimilative Crimes Act and could not be prosecuted by the federal government under that law. The original opinion is available at https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/1527726/download.

    8/22/2022

  • Authority of a Majority of the FDIC Board to Present Items for Vote and Decision

    The Chairperson of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation does not have the authority to prevent a majority of the FDIC Board from presenting items to the Board for a vote and decision. The original opinion is available at https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/1529481/download.

    8/30/2022

  • Re: Best Practices for OLC Legal Advice and Written Opinions

    Memorandum for Attorneys of the Office, from David J. Barron, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, Re: Best Practices for OLC Legal Advice and Written Opinions (July 16, 2010) (with addendum dated June 9, 2022). The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/olc/page/file/1511836/download

    6/9/2022

  • Authority of the President to Prospectively Appoint a Supreme Court Justice

    If the Senate votes to confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, the President may complete her appointment to the Supreme Court by signing her commission before Justice Breyer's resignation takes effect. The original opinion is available at https://www.justice.gov/olc/file/1494816/download.

    4/15/2022

  • Re: Freedom of Information Act Guidelines

    Although OLC's records are generally privileged, consistent with the Attorney General's FOIA guidelines, dated March 15, 2022, OLC sometimes releases requested records as a matter of discretion, even if they fall within the scope of a FOIA exemption or have not been the subject of a FOIA request. To make such documents generally available when they are the subject of repeated requests or may be of public or historical interest, and consistent with the requirements of 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(2)(D), the Office may post them in this electronic reading room. Documents posted in this electronic reading room generally have been disclosed through discretionary release, but they have not been selected for official publication and thus they are not included among the Office's formal published opinions. Although these records may be of public or historical interest, the views expressed in some of these records may not reflect the Office's current views. The original opinion is available at www.justice.gov/ag/page/file/1483516/download.

    6/8/2022

  • Annotated index of 1988 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1988 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1989 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1989 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

  • Annotated index of 1990 unclassified OLC legal opinions

    The OLC disclosed a preliminary index of all unclassified OLC legal opinions issued in 1990 to the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. This version of the index (annotated by Institute staff) shows which opinions are already publicly available (blue).

    1/28/2022

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