Selected Papers of Homer Cummings, Attorney General of the United States, 1933-1939

By Carl Brent Swisher; Homer S. Cummings | Go to book overview

7. Legislation--Advice to Congressional Committees and to the Chief Executive

[In matters affecting the administration of justice, the Attorney General is called upon by congressional committees for views and often submits drafts of needed measures to members or committees of the Congress. The Chief Executive requests comment on bills presented for his approval. During the Roosevelt administration, the duties of the Attorney General and his staff with respect to legislation were greatly expanded in number, scope, and subjects. From March 4, 1933, to December 7, 1938, the Department drafted and sponsored 126 measures, made requested reports to congressional committees on 797, reviewed 144 prepared in other departments and agencies, and commented on 511 submitted to the President for approval. This function is illustrated in numerous items in other parts of this volume. The Attorney General, however, is not a legal adviser to the Congress or its committees and, for more than a hundred years, has with more or less consistency refused to give advice to the Congress except upon questions directly affecting the operations of the Department of Justice. Occasionally, memoranda are submitted or oral views given. Notable instances in recent years have been testimony before congressional committees by Assistant Attorney General John Dickinson on the validity of the amended National Bituminous Coal Conservation Act and of Assistant Attorney General Robert H. Jackson on the validity of the so-called "wages and hours" bill. Ed.]


Circular No. 2516, January 18, 1934:

HEREAFTER, all requests or recommendations for legislation shall be submitted to The Assistant to the Attorney General before being presented to Congress. This applies to any official expression of opinion, whether written or verbal, regarding pending or proposed legislation.

In order that the Department of Justice may comply with the provisions of Circular No. 49, as amended, issued by the Bureau of the Budget upon order of the President, it is directed that

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