The Right Coast
December 05, 2005
Alito and OLC
By Mike Rappaport
An interesting piece on the Office of Legal Counsel, where Sam Alito worked in the mid 1980s and for which he wrote his now famous job application letter. I was very familiar with that office, having started in the office right at the time that Alito was leaving in 1987.
The description of the office in the article is essentially correct. The article states:
"OLC was designed to be an objective appraiser of the law, a place inside a political administration where policy people can come and say, 'OK, we'll ask the lawyers what the law requires.' I don't know how many times I wrote this, but it was multiple times -- that 'whatever the policy merits of this idea, the law specifies the following.'"Chuck Cooper was my boss at OLC and he is absolutely right about the lack of political interference. I did the work on the Line Item Veto opinion, along with another attorney, and we were asked simply to determine what was the correct answer, irrespective of which way it turned out. We wrote quite a long opinion holding that the Constitution did not confer a line item veto, and Chuck Cooper agreed when he reviewed the opinion. While the White House was not happy, the law was the law (and the law was the original meaning).