Schroeder leads Office of Legal Counsel as acting assistant attorney general

Professor Emeritus Christopher Schroeder is serving as acting head of the OLC after leading the Department of Justice agency review team for the Biden-Harris transition.

Christopher Schroeder photo

Christopher Schroeder, the Charles S. Murphy Professor Emeritus of Law and professor emeritus of public policy, was appointed as principal deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) in the U.S. Department of Justice on Jan. 20, becoming acting assistant attorney general for the office. Schroeder earlier led the Department of Justice agency review team for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, one of several groups that managed the transition to the new administration.

As acting assistant attorney general in charge of the OLC, Schroeder provides legal advice to the president and all executive branch agencies. The office drafts legal opinions of the attorney general and provides its own written opinions and other advice in response to requests from the counsel to the president, the various agencies of the executive branch, and other components of the Department of Justice. According to the department’s website, these requests typically deal with legal issues of particular complexity and importance or those about which two or more agencies are in disagreement. The OLC is also responsible for reviewing and commenting on the constitutionality of pending legislation and for approving the form and legality of executive orders and substantive proclamations issued by the president.

Schroeder previously served in the OLC during the Clinton administration when he was of the was deputy assistant attorney general from 1993 to 1996 and acting assistant attorney general in 1996. He also served as assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy for almost three years during the Obama administration. In that capacity he supervised the evaluation of the president’s nominees to the federal judiciary and provided policy advice to the attorney general and the White House on a variety of law enforcement and national security issues. His earlier government service included posts as chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary (chaired by then Sen. Biden) and in the U.S. Department of Justice.

A scholar of constitutional law, Congress, and the scope of executive power, as well as of environmental law, Schroeder retired from teaching in May 2020.

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Winter 2021
Volume 40 No. 1