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

By Carl Brent Swisher; Homer S. Cummings | Go to book overview
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10, Opinions--Advice to the President and Cabinet

[The Judiciary Act of 1789, in creating the office of Attorney General, required him only to represent the United States in the courts and give opinions on questions of law to the President and heads of departments. The opinion function has grown with the years until it now requires a special staff of assistants. From March 4, 1933, to December 8, 1938, the Attorney General rendered 851 opinions, passed upon the form and legality of 1,706 executive orders and 270 proclamations, and approved or rejected 813 important compromises of law suits (minor cases being disposed of by other officers of the Department). In addition, he examined informally many hundreds of questions which occur from the countless legal details of public law and administration. Assistance in these several types of duties is furnished chiefly by the office of the Assistant Solicitor General. Legal studies of large problems--such as immunity from state taxation, federal incorporation, and the use of troops in cases of domestic violence--are distributed among appropriate units of the Department. Ed.]


Office memorandum to Assistant Solicitor General Golden W. Bell, November 27, 1936:

QUESTIONS have arisen as to the rule of law involved in the appointment of cabinet officers. Amongst the points raised are the following: (1) Is there any rule of law requiring a President who has been reelected to submit to the Senate the names of the cabinet he desires to have serve with him, if it is his wish to retain the old cabinet? In other words, are reappointments and reconfirmations necessary? (2) How long does a cabinet officer by law hold office? (3) On what legal basis is founded the provision in the commission that a cabinet officer serve at the pleasure of the President? I think all the commissions have some such language, at least in substance. (4) Is there a distinction in the matter of Postmaster General? It has been said that there

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