396 F.Supp. 1231 (D.D.C. 1975), Civ. A. 74-1675, Nader v. Baroody

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 74-1675
Citation:396 F.Supp. 1231
Party Name:Nader v. Baroody
Case Date:June 23, 1975
Court:United States District Courts, District of Columbia
 
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396 F.Supp. 1231 (D.D.C. 1975)

Ralph NADER, Plaintiff,

v.

William J. BAROODY, Jr., Assistant to the President for Public Liaison, Defendant.

Civ. A. No. 74-1675.

United States District Court, District of Columbia.

June 23, 1975

Larry P. Ellsworth, Washington, D.C., for plaintiff.

Paul M. Tschirhart, Asst. U.S. Atty., Washington, D.C., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

GESELL, District Judge.

In this action plaintiff seeks a declaratory judgment to the effect that certain bi-weekly meetings with selected groups held at the White House create 'advisory committees' within the meaning of section 3(2) of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, 5 U.S.C. App. I, Pub.L. 92-463, 86 Stat. 770, approved October 6, 1972, and an injunction directing defendant to comply with the open meeting and other requirements of that Act. On the basis of information gathered under the Freedom of Information Act and by interrogatories, the White House has made full disclosure and the parties are in agreement as to

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the underlying facts. The matter comes before the Court on cross-motions for summary judgment which have been fully briefed and well argued.

Beginning in June, 1974, the Assistant to the President of the United States for Public Liaison has regularly convened meetings every two weeks between different high officials of the executive branch and major business organizations or private sector groups to encourage an exchange of views. This program is designed to open the White House to groups in the private sector and increase the flow of information between these groups and top Executive officials, including the President. A different group meets every two weeks. In some fifteen separate meetings at the White House, representatives of the housing construction and residential financing industries, senior citizens, life insurance industry, agriculture and livestock industries, electric utilities, printing industry, professional service firms, food processing firms, women business leaders, National Council of Churches, home economists in business, grocery manufacturers, youth and technology, and insurance have met. The attendance is by specific invitation to named individuals. A meeting runs an average of three and one-half hours. The private participants have sometimes on their own initiative provided views and recommendations on a variety of subjects in advance of or subsequent to the meetings. The President has attended a portion of four of these meetings. After each meeting a memorandum is prepared of what transpired, summarizing the varying views or varying recommendations received. Further White House meetings of this kind are regularly being scheduled.

The specific and only issue presented is one of statutory interpretation, namely, whether the series of meetings or the individual meetings viewed separately have created one or more advisory committees within the meaning of the Act. If, in legal contemplation, these are meetings of one or more advisory committees, a series of consequences flow which, as a practical matter, would make the program impractical because of the limited facilities at the White House, loss of scheduling flexibility, security, etc. Members of the press and public would be authorized to attend, 1 after advance notice in the Federal Register, 2 and a number of other procedural and substantive changes would be required by the Act. Plaintiff is a consumer representative who asked...

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