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Morrison v. Olson

Law Dictionary
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Constitutional Law Keyed to Stone

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Bloomberg Law

Citation. 487 U.S. 654, 108 S. Ct. 2597, 101 L. Ed. 2d 569, 1988 U.S. 3034.

Brief Fact Summary. The Ethics in Government Act (the Act) allows for the appointment of an “Independent Counsel” by a special court, upon the recommendation of the Attorney General. The purpose is to investigate and if necessary, prosecute government officials for certain violations of federal criminal laws.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. There is no inherent incongruity in a court having the power to appoint prosecutorial officers.


Facts. Title VI of the Act allows for the appointment of an “Independent Counsel” by a special court, upon the recommendation of the Attorney General. The purpose is to investigate and if necessary, prosecute government officials for certain violations of federal criminal laws. The Act provides that the independent counsel can be removed from office only by impeachment or by personal action of the Attorney General for good cause.

Issue. Did the Act violate the constitutional principal of separation of powers?

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