OLC in the Clinton Era and Today -- A Response to Eric Posner:
Eric, I'm puzzled by your post below on OLC in the Clinton era. If I follow your argument correctly, you start with several cases in which the Clinton OLC concluded that the President had a particular power; you then note that alumni of the Clinton OLC were critical of the Bush OLC for concluding in different cases that the President had a set of powers; and then you suggest that the Clinton OLC alumni are probably hypocrites because they were pro-Presidential power under Clinton but not under Bush.

  The problem with this argument is that the legal opinions under OLC in the two eras were on quite different issues. Given that, I don't think it works to just compare the number of times OLC publicly said "yes" or "no" in the general category of Article II powers. (I'm reminded of the pro se defendant who thought the judge biased because his motions were denied every single time.) More broadly, positions on Presidential power are not binary: It's not like folks are either "100% for" or "100% against." Jack Goldsmith's experience is helpful here, I think. Goldsmith is no slouch when it comes to Presidential power, but it seems that he shared many of the criticisms that the Clinton OLC veterans had for the OLC under many periods of the Bush Administration.

  As I wrote before, I suspect the Obama OLC will see itself as trying to shift back to more of a middle ground position. That will end up leading to results that mirror those of the Bush OLC in some cases. But I don't see that as grounds for concluding that it's just 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss,' or for suggesting that Dawn Johnsen or other OLC alumni are hypocrites.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. OLC in the Clinton Era and Today -- A Response to Eric Posner:
  2. OLC in the Clinton era—and today.