Government Lawyers

The Federal Legal Bureaucracy and Presidential Politics

Edited by Cornell W. Clayton

For years many citizens have complained that our national government is fettered by legions of inefficient, unaccountable, feather-nesting lawyers. These critics might be right about the numbers—there are nearly 40,000 lawyers employed by the federal government in every branch and at every level. But most of these professionals fulfill functions that are essential to or extremely valuable in running the machinery of government.

In this volume, Cornell Clayton and eight other authorities on public law and legal agencies explore the role that politics play in this federal legal bureaucracy—especially within the executive branch. They provide insights into the historical development, present status, future trends, and interrelations among the offices of the Attorney General, Solicitor General, Special Prosecutor, White House Legal Counsel, Office of Legal Counsel, and counsels in regulatory agencies like the EPA and the EEOC. All the essays highlight a common theme—the perpetual tensions and conflicts between executive-branch politics and the profession's principled independence.

“A useful collection of essays that provide an introduction to major legal actors in the executive branch of the federal government.

—American Political Science Review

“Clayton's book is exciting because of the large research void it fills and because of the fascinating subject matter—the diverse role of lawyers who work for the federal government.

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Readable and enlightening, these essays add much to our understanding of—and remove some of the tarnish from—this elite corps of legal experts. They should benefit anyone interested in the legal profession, presidential politics, administrative law, public policy, and bureaucratic politics in our nation's capital.

About the Author

Cornell W. Clayton, assistant professor of political science at Washington State University, is the author of The Politics of Justice: The Attorney General and the Making of Legal Policy and The United States Department of Justice and Federal Legal Administration.

Additional Titles in the Studies in Government and Public Policy Series