Publication Date


Document Type

Front Matter


June 30, 1999. On that date, absent reauthorization, the Independent Counsel Statute "shall cease to be effective."' This "sunset provision" was designed in part to ensure that affirmative legislative action, informed by vigorous debate, will be required to extend the life of the great national experiment that is the Independent Counsel Statute. The debate over the statute is well under way, and the outcome of that debate will greatly affect the course of American politics and government. The decision of whether to revert to the pre-independent counsel scheme or to extend, amend, or replace the independent counsel institution is a fundamental choice about the form of our government. Although the debate concerns an institution created by statute, the decision as to who shall wield prosecutorial power, a core executive function, has significant implications for how our constitutional system functions. ...

In this introduction to the Symposium, an effort is made to frame the issues being debated. Part I offers some remarks about the nature of the power at issue in the debate over the Independent Counsel Statute, namely, the power of prosecutorial discretion. Part II expands on the notion that the allocation of this power presents legislators with a dilemma that forces difficult choices. Part III discusses the fact that the current debate will be conducted in a highly politicized environment, a reality that may cause political expediency to determine the outcome. Part IV summarizes the views of the seven Symposium speakers, examining how the recommendations of the speakers would strike the balance between the competing halves of the discretion dilemma.