November 28, 1983
I am today signing H.R. 3222. I am doing so, however, with strong reservations about the constitutional implications of section 510 of this bill. Section 510 purports to prohibit the expenditure of appropriated funds on ``any activity, the purpose of which is to overturn or alter the per se prohibition on resale price maintenance in effect under Federal antitrust laws. . . .'' I do not understand Congress to have intended by this provision to limit or direct prosecutorial discretion, or otherwise to restrict the government's ability to enforce the antitrust laws within the framework of existing case law. Thus, despite the breadth of its language, pursuant to the advice of the Attorney General, I interpret section 510 narrowly to apply only to attempts to seek a reversal of the holdings of a certain line of previously decided cases. Even as narrowly construed, however, the provision potentially imposes an unconstitutional burden on executive officials charged with enforcing the Federal antitrust laws. Therefore, I believe it is my constitutional responsibility to apply section 510 in any particular situation consistently with the President's power and duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.
Another provision of concern is the section which purports to mandate continued funding for current grantees of the Legal Services Corporation at essentially the same level of funding as in fiscal year 1983 unless action is taken prior to January 1, 1984, by directors of the Corporation who have been confirmed by the Senate. To the extent that this provision may be intended to disable persons appointed under the Constitution's provision governing Presidential appointments during congressional recesses from performing functions that directors who have been confirmed by the Senate are authorized to perform, it raises troubling constitutional issues with respect to my recess appointments power. The Attorney General has been looking into this matter at my request and will advise me on how to interpret this potentially restrictive condition.
Note: The President signed the bill into law in a ceremony in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
As enacted, H.R. 3222 is Public Law 98 - 166, approved November 28.