This question's context is grounded in the recent history of the 2009 Honduran constitutional crisis that both parties, the State Department, the President, and it seems ultimately the Library of Congress weighed in on. You can read all about it here in Wikipedia

My question just relates to the role that the Library of Congress played in this incident, a summary of which can be found below from the same Wiki article.

The United States Department of State condemned the ouster of Zelaya and continued to recognise him as the only constitutional president of Honduras.[14][264][265] Although US officials characterised the events as a coup, suspended joint military operations on 1 July,[266] suspended all non-emergency, non-immigrant visas,[267][268] and cut off certain non-humanitarian aid to Honduras,[269][270] they have held back from formally designating Zelaya's ouster a "military coup", which would require them to cut off almost all aid to Honduras.[271][272][273][274] However, on 24 September, the Law Library of Congress issued a report stating that the Honduran Congress had constitutional power to remove Zelaya from office, but indicating that his expatriation was unconstitutional.[275] On 29 October, LLOC refused to retract the report.[276] The State Department warned the Micheletti government that it might not recognise the results of 29 November elections if Zelaya were not allowed to return to power first,[277] but ultimately recognised the elections at the last second, despite Zelaya not having been returned to power.

The 276 footnote link is broken, but I have reproduced it here.

I am not concerned at all that the report was correct in its conclusions or if the Obama administration was correct in trying to re-instate Zelaya. The report's conclusions seemed dispositive, however, as the administration bent to the conclusions subsequently and changed its position that Zelaya was "Constitutionally" the President of Honduras. However, this change in position may also have been because of the changing fact pattern on the ground as a scheduled election was due to be held.

What I am interested in, ultimately, is what authority did the Library of Congress have that it could produce such a report and was the Obama administration under any onus to respect its conclusions?

  • 3
    There is a distinction between the Library of Congress and the Law Library of Congress... – DJohnM Dec 9 '16 at 15:45
  • 8
    Are you sure your question is correct? This appears to have been a report produced by the Law Library of Congress as research commissioned by a US Congressman, rather than the Library of Congress unilaterally attacking the State Department's position. – origimbo Dec 9 '16 at 15:47
  • 1
    The Law Library is a subset of the Library as a whole – user9790 Dec 9 '16 at 16:04
  • 2
    Read the LLOC's mission: blogs.loc.gov/law/2011/01/mission-and-responsibilities – jalynn2 Dec 9 '16 at 18:23

The Law Library of Congress's mission and responsibilities includes the following:

The Law Library is a dynamic legal information research and processing center. It serves the needs of the United States Congress, the Supreme Court and judicial branch, executive branch agencies, and scholarly researchers with comparative research, analysis, and documents on a global scale. LLOC blog

So the report was requested and the LLOC fulfilled the request.

  • 1
    I like the mission statement, which is conspicuously missing from their own website – user9790 Dec 12 '16 at 18:59

I don't think that it was a decision by the LLOC, as much as they are considered an objective, non-partisan authoritative source for legal opinions, in both reading of the laws, ours and those in other nations, as well as historical precedence.

As such, they were asked to research the legalities of the activities, and, being non-partisan and objective, their report was considered to be solid/authoritative, and the Department of State, in light of that, accepted their information as actual. If our legal experts came back and said "this is legal" and our State Department said "we consider this illegal," they would have no credibility. If the politics were of upmost importance, then they probably would not have been asked to offer an opinion (or maybe opposition asked for it).

This would be like a report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) or the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) - neither body makes rulings, per se, but their findings are considered factual and objective, and often drive eventual decisions (and sometimes their input is required in order for certain initiatives to move forward, if they have to be revenue neutral, for instance).

  • I think this is mostly correct too and likely what happened. There was no onus, only credibility at stake. – user9790 Dec 12 '16 at 19:07
  • Wish I could get two votes. – user9790 Dec 12 '16 at 19:14

You must log in to answer this question.