Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 4 of 1953 Concerning the Department of Justice.
To the Congress of the United States:
I transmit herewith Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1953 prepared in accordance with the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended, and providing for reorganizations in the Department of Justice.
Under present law, the Solicitor General is required to exercise the duties of the Attorney General in case of the absence or disability of the latter, or in case of a vacancy in the office of Attorney General. This arrangement originated in 1870. The Solicitor General is no longer the appropriate officer of the Department of Justice to be first in the line of succession of officers to be Acting Attorney General. His basic and primary function is to represent the United States before the Supreme Court. He is not concerned with the day-to-day administrative direction of the affairs of the Department of Justice. Thus, he is not likely to be the officer of the Department whose regular duties best prepare him to assume the occasional responsibility of guiding the affairs of the entire Department in the capacity of Acting Attorney General.
The Department of Justice now has a Deputy Attorney General, provision for that title having been made in Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1950. The duties of this officer include supervision over all major units of the Department of Justice and over United States Attorneys and Marshals. He is the chief liaison officer of the Department of Justice with the Congress and with other departments and agencies. He is, both by title and by the nature of his functions, the officer best situated to act as the administrative head of the Department of Justice when the Attorney General is absent or disabled or the office of Attorney General is vacant.
Accordingly, the reorganization plan would transfer from the Solicitor General to the Deputy Attorney General the functions conferred by statute upon the former with respect to acting as Attorney General. The reorganization plan makes further provision for Acting Attorney General in circumstances where both the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General are unavailable. The plan would authorize the Attorney General to prescribe the order of succession in which the Assistant Attorneys General and the Solicitor General shall, in such circumstances, act as Attorney General.
There are in the Department of Justice eight offices of Assistant Attorney General. Each incumbent of seven of these offices has the sole statutory function of assisting the Attorney General in the performance of his duties. However, the statute prescribes that the eighth Assistant Attorney General (along with certain assistants) shall have charge of the interests of the Government in all matters of reappraisement and classification of imported goods. This officer is known as the Assistant Attorney General in charge of customs matters.
By Reorganization Plan No. 2 of 1950 all functions of all subordinate officers, and of all agencies, of the Department of Justice were transferred to the Attorney General. Accordingly, the Assistant Attorney General in charge of customs matters would now perform only such functions as may be delegated to him by the Attorney General. However, the effect of the present statute may well be to require the appointment of the Assistant Attorney General in charge of customs matters, whereas this official should be appointed simply as an Assistant Attorney General, as are other Assistant Attorneys General. All doubt in this regard should be resolved.
To accomplish this end, the accompanying reorganization plan would abolish the now-existing office of Assistant Attorney General in charge of customs matters and establish in lieu thereof a new office of Assistant Attorney General. Appointment thereto would be by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.
After investigation I have found and hereby declare that each reorganization included in Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1953 is necessary to accomplish one or more of the purposes set forth in section 2(a) of the Reorganization Act of 1949, as amended. I have also found and hereby declare that it is necessary to include in the accompanying reorganization plan, by reason of reorganization made thereby, provisions for the appointment and compensation of an Assistant Attorney General. The rate of compensation fixed for this officer is that which I have found to prevail in respect of comparable officers in the executive branch of the Government.
Reorganization Plan No. 4 of 1953 neither increases nor decreases the number of officials or employees, or the functions, of the Department of Justice. Accordingly, it is not probable that reductions in expenditures will be brought about by the taking effect of the reorganizations included in the reorganization plan. I am persuaded, however, that the reorganization plan will promote the best utilization of the top officers of the Department of Justice and the most effective conduct of the affairs of the Department.
DWIGHT D. EISENHOWER
Note: Reorganization Plan 4 of 1953 is published in the U.S. Statutes at Large (67 Stat. 636) and in the 1949-1953 Compilation of title 3 of the Code of Federal Regulations (p. 1026). It became effective on June 20, 1953.
Dwight D. Eisenhower, Special Message to the Congress Transmitting Reorganization Plan 4 of 1953 Concerning the Department of Justice. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231648