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Morrison v. Olson

Significance, The Creation Of The Independent Counsel, "how The Act Works In Practice", An "inferior" Officer


Alexia Morrison


Theodore B. Olson, et al.

Appellant's Claim

That Title VI the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, which established a special court and authorized the attorney general of the United States to recommend that the court appoint an independent counsel to investigate wrongdoing by federal officials, was not in violation of the Appointments Clause, or the principle of separation of powers, in the Constitution.

Chief Lawyer for Appellant

Alexia Morrison (pro se)

Chief Lawyer for Appellee

Thomas S. Martin

Justices for the Court

Harry A. Blackmun, William J. Brennan, Jr., Thurgood Marshall, Sandra Day O'Connor, William H. Rehnquist (writing for the Court), John Paul Stevens, Byron R. White

Justices Dissenting

Antonin Scalia (Anthony M. Kennedy did not participate)


Washington, D.C.

Date of Decision

27 June 1988


That the Ethics in Government Act did not violate the Appointments Clause in Article II, the limitations on judicial duties in Article III, or the principle of separation of powers; accordingly, the judgment of the lower court was reversed.

Related Cases

  • Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52 (1926).
  • Wiener v. United States, 357 U.S. 349 (1958).
  • United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974).
  • Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976).
  • Mistretta v. United States, 488 U.S. 361 (1989).
  • Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997).


Bacon, Donald C., et al., eds. The Encyclopedia of the United States Congress New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1981 to 1988