Subject Matter of Administrative Agency Opinions

Federal Law provides that the head of an executive department may request an opinion of the Attorney General on questions of law arising in the administration of his/her department[i].

The Attorney General renders opinions on questions of law[ii] and questions in which the US has an interest[iii].  Also, the Attorney General renders opinion only if the question raises a substantial and genuine issue of law[iv].

The Attorney General refuses to render opinion on,

  • hypothetical questions[v].
  • moot questions[vi].
  • questions of fact[vii].
  • questions as to jurisdiction of court[viii].
  • questions involving payment of money[ix].
  • questions of administrative discretion or policy[x].
  • disputed facts[xi].
  • departmental regulations[xii].
  • judicial questions[xiii].
  • effect or interpretation of pending legislation or regulations[xiv].
  • questions from cases no longer pending[xv].

Thus the Attorney General renders opinion only on questions of law.  While rendering an opinion the Attorney General will not give a speculative opinion on an abstract question of law[xvi].  Also the Attorney General will not review the opinion of a former Attorney General, unless a proper case is submitted by a Department head[xvii].

[i] 28 USCS § 512

[ii] 25 Op. Atty Gen. 584

[iii] 2 Op. Atty Gen. 311

[iv] 43 Op. Atty Gen. 286

[v] 11 Op. Atty Gen. 189

[vi] 21 Op. Atty Gen. 509

[vii] 1 Op. Atty Gen. 346

[viii] 11 Op. Atty Gen. 407

[ix] 21 Op. Atty Gen. 181

[x] 28 Op. Atty Gen. 127

[xi] 3 Op. Atty Gen. 1

[xii] 18 Op. Atty Gen. 521

[xiii] 38 Op. Atty Gen. 1

[xiv] 12 Op. Atty Gen. 433

[xv] 12 Op. Atty Gen. 433

[xvi] 11 Op. Atty Gen. 189

[xvii] ibid


Inside Subject Matter of Administrative Agency Opinions