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Strengthening Checks and Balances

Phone Briefing on the Role of the Office of Legal Counsel

(Illustration: CJ Ostrosky / POGO)

Listen to the briefing

The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is a relatively unknown but incredibly influential office within the Department of Justice. It serves as the in-house legal expert for the executive and provides formal legal analysis considered to be binding on the executive branch. However, OLC's authority does not extend to the other branches of government. POGO Policy Director Liz Hempowicz and The Constitution Project at POGO Director Sarah Turberville hosted a phone briefing for Hill staff to give an overview of the office, the impact it has had on Congressional oversight, what weight Congress should give the analysis produced by the office, and proposals to reform how the office operates.