Barry Sullivan

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irst, this Article situates the Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) within the context of a political system in which the executive has grown in power far beyond anything that the founders could have foreseen. As the chief legal advisor to the executive branch, OLC performs a critically important function in protecting our constitutional system and ensuring adherence to the rule of law, but OLC makes no final determinations on behalf of the United States and is subject to the supervision of the Attorney General. Second, the Article reviews the recent recommendations of the American Constitution Society concerning possible reforms of OLC. Among other things, those recommendations include a systematic review of existing opinions and greater transparency going forward. This Article generally concurs in those recommendations but also suggests the possibility of additional reforms such as a reduction in the number of political appointees in OLC and a focus on recruiting more experienced lawyers to fill its ranks. Third, and most important, the Article reviews the relevant case law and evaluates the possibility of a more fundamental reform, namely, giving a greater degree of independence to OLC by providing the Assistant Attorney General for OLC with a fixed term coterminous with that of the President. The Article concludes that such a reform is legally possible and worthy of serious consideration, whether as a matter of legislative enactment or administrative regulation.