Thursday, August 1, 2013

"yes" lawyers and "no" lawyers

There's a story that Lyndon Johnson, interviewing a man to be White House Counsel, asked, "Are you a Yes lawyer or a No lawyer?"  The implication, of course, is that he wanted someone who would give him legal permission to act as he wanted.  In my [limited] experience, it seems the Executive Branch lawyers more often than not are doubters rather than enablers. In the private sector, businesses usually get the go-ahead from their lawyers.

The Justice Department has just released a bunch of historical legal opinions from the Office of Legal Counsel [OLC]. I've just started scanning them, but already there are some fascinating nuggets -- such as a firm opinion that Franklin Roosevelt had no power to order percentage cuts in departmental budgets and one from Eisenhower's OLC saying a law requiring a balanced budget was unconstitutional.  Take a look for yourself. More later.

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