Alexia Morrison, Independent Counsel v. Theodore B. Olsen

From wikilawschool.net. Wiki Law School does not provide legal advice. For educational purposes only.
Revision as of 21:24, March 7, 2020 by HiMark (talk | contribs) (Created page with "{{Infobox Case Brief |court=U.S. Supreme Court |citation=487 U.S. 654 (1988) |date=1988 |subject=Constitutional Law }} '''Facts''' The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 allo...")
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Jump to navigationJump to search
Alexia Morrison, Independent Counsel v. Theodore B. Olsen
Court U.S. Supreme Court
Citation 487 U.S. 654 (1988)
Date decided 1988

Facts

The Ethics in Government Act of 1978 allows for Congress to appoint an independent counsel to investigate and if necessary prosecute any high-ranking governmental official for violation of federal criminal laws. The Attorney General can dismiss the counsel for good cause. The Constitution vests all executive functions to the President, but allows Congress to appoint inferior officers.


Issues

Whether the independent counsel is an inferior officer allowed to be appointed by the Congress, or a principal officer which must be selected by the President.Whether the Ethics Act violates the separation of powers.


Holding/Decision

The position is constitutional.


Rules

Because the position is subject to removal by a higher Executive Branch official, and empowered only to perform certain, limited duties, and limited in jurisdiction, the independent counsel is an inferior officer in the constitutional sense.


Dissent

The act should be invalidated on separation of powers principle. There will always be room for abuse, but the Constitution is clear when it states that powers of executive functions shall be vested solely in the President.