McGinnis on Holder's Treatment of OLC:

Over at Executive Watch (a truly excellent blog sponsored by the Duke Law Program in Public Law), former Deputy AAG John McGinnis comments on Attorney General Eric Holder's treatment of OLC over the constitutionality of legislation to grant D.C. representation in the House of Representatives.

If the Attorney General believed that this opinion was wrong, he could overrule it. Attorneys General previously have themselves rendered legal opinions. An opinion would provide a measure of accountability because General Holder would have to sign his name to a legal document that purported to show how to get around the Constitution's clear requirement. Indeed, the Obama administration has argued that increasing the transparency of the legal process within the executive branch will increase respect for the rule of law. What better testament to that transparency than to allow us to compare the reasoning of the Attorney General with that of his own legal counsel?

Instead, the Attorney General asked the office of Solicitor General at a time when there was no confirmed Solicitor General whether that office would be willing to defend the statute, if passed. The Solicitor General's office has a long history of defending legislation if there is any credible basis for doing so. But it never opines on the constitutionality of pending legislation, because the question for the President in signing a bill is not whether the legislation might be defended by some argument in Court but whether the legislation is constitutional, not whether some Court might uphold it, but whether the President should give it his own unique constitutional imprimatur.