Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

NIXON v. SAMPSON

January 31, 1975

RICHARD M. NIXON, Plaintiff,
v.
ARTHUR F. SAMPSON , et al., Defendants, HENRY S. RUTH, Special Prosecutor, Intervenor, JACK ANDERSON, Intervenor. and THE REPORTERS COMMITTEE FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS , et al., Plaintiffs, v. ARTHUR F. SAMPSON , et al., Defendants, RICHARD M. NIXON, Intervenor. and LILLIAN HELLMAN , et al., Plaintiffs, v. ARTHUR F. SAMPSON , et al., Defendants, SEN. SAM J. ERVIN, JR., et al., Amici Curiae; CONGRESSWOMAN ELIZABETH HOLTZMAN, Amicus Curiae



The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHEY

MEMORANDUM OPINION

 CHARLES R. RICHEY

 I. INTRODUCTION

 These consolidated cases present a unique controversy, the heart of which concerns the ownership of and the right to assert or waive privilege with respect to the "Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations" *fn1" of the Nixon Administration.

 The suits comprise the following actions: a suit by former President Richard M. Nixon (C.A. No. 74-1518) for injunctive relief and a writ of mandamus against Arthur F. Sampson, the Administrator of General Services; Philip W. Buchen, counsel to President Gerald R. Ford; and H. Stuart Knight, Director of the Secret Service, as well as the Special Prosecutor, an intervenor-defendant, who has counterclaimed against Mr. Nixon for declaratory relief; a suit by The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al. (C.A. No. 74-1533) for declaratory and injunctive relief against Messrs. Sampson, Buchen, and Knight; a suit by Lillian Hellman, et al. (C.A. No. 74-1551) for declaratory and injunctive relief against Mr. Richard M. Nixon and Messrs. Sampson, Buchen, and Knight; and a suit by Mr. Jack Anderson, an intervenor-plaintiff in C.A. No. 74-1518, for declaratory and injunctive relief against Mr. Nixon, by cross-claim, and against Messrs. Sampson, Buchen, and Knight for declaratory and injunctive relief.

 II. BACKGROUND *fn3"

 On August 9, 1974, President Richard M. Nixon resigned from Office and was succeeded by Gerald R. Ford. *fn4" Shortly thereafter, on August 15, 1974, members of the Office of the Special Prosecutor *fn5" informed Philip W. Buchen, *fn6" counsel to President Ford, and J. Fred Buzhardt, counsel to former President Nixon, that the Special Prosecutor had a continuing interest in the Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations of the Nixon Administration which are housed in the White House, the Executive Office Building, and elsewhere, that "might be relevant to investigations and prosecutions within the jurisdiction of the Special Prosecutor." *fn7" Assurances were given to the Special Prosecutor that the files of former President Nixon and his staff members would not be removed from the White House or the Executive Office Building without the Special Prosecutor's approval. *fn8" On August 22, 1974, Mr. Buchen requested an opinion from Attorney General William Saxbe on the issues of the ownership of the Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations of the Nixon Administration and the responsibilities of the Ford Administration with respect to subpoenas or other court orders requiring the production of these materials and/or tape-recorded conversations. *fn9" On August 29, 1974, Mr. Buchen received a preliminary opinion from Deputy Attorney General Laurence Silberman that the Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations were to be regarded as belonging to the former President, but that the government had a right to use the materials for ongoing governmental purposes and would also have to respond to subpoenas or court orders relating to the materials and tape-recorded conversations. *fn10" Thereafter, Mr. Buchen met with Mr. William Casselman, counsel to President Ford, and Mr. Benton L. Becker, a private attorney, concerning the disposition of the Presidential materials of the Nixon Administration. *fn11" On or about August 30, 1974, Mr. Buchen contacted Mr. Herbert J. Miller, attorney for former President Nixon, and raised the subject of the disposition of the materials. *fn12" Further discussions were held on September 3 and September 5, 1974, between Mr. Buchen, Mr. Miller and Mr. Becker. *fn13" At the September 5 meeting, Mr. Miller presented a draft depository agreement for consideration. *fn14" After some changes, it was finalized and signed by the former President on September 6, 1974. *fn15" On the same day, a written opinion of Attorney General Saxbe was released. *fn16" At or about 6:15 or 6:30 p.m. on September 7, 1974, Mr. Arthur F. Sampson, Administrator of the General Services Administration, met with Messrs. Casselman and Becker, who presented him with the depository agreement signed by former President Nixon. *fn17" At approximately 7:10 p.m., Mr. Sampson signed the agreement, *fn18" (hereinafter, the "Nixon-Sampson Agreement").

 On September 10, 1974, Jack Anderson, a well-known newspaper columnist, filed an application with the General Services Administration, pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, *fn19" seeking access to the materials encompassed by the Nixon-Sampson Agreement. On October 2, 1974, Lillian Hellman and other members of the Committee for Public Justice filed a similar application, but restricted it to the tape recordings of conversations in the White House and Executive Office Building. Both applications were denied on the grounds that:

 
". . . (1) this agency does not presently have the requested materials in its possession; (2) deposited papers and other historical materials are not "records" within the purview of the Freedom of Information Act and, therefore, are not subject to its provisions; and (3) assuming, for the sake of argument, that the deposited papers and other historical materials are subject to the provisions of the Act, they are exempt from disclosure under the third exception to the mandatory public disclosure; i.e. ". . . matters that are . . . specifically exempted from disclosure by statute . . ." (5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3)). The pertinent statute is the Presidential Libraries Act of 1955, which provides that the Administrator of the General Services may accept for deposit on behalf of the United States papers and/or other historical materials which may be subject to restrictions upon access that have been accepted by the Administrator (44 U.S. 2107-2108). *fn20"

 On October 17, 1974, former President Nixon brought suit against Arthur F. Sampson, Philip W. Buchen, and H. Stuart Knight, *fn22" seeking a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to compel compliance with the Nixon-Sampson Agreement and preventing unauthorized access to the materials and tape-recorded conversation. On October 21, 1974, Jack Anderson, whose application for access to the materials had been denied on the basis, inter alia, of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, moved to intervene, seeking temporary and preliminary injunctive relief to prevent its implementation. On the same day, the Special Prosecutor also moved to intervene in order to protect the interests of his office in the materials and tape-recorded conversations. Also on October 21, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al., filed suit against the government seeking relief similar to that sought by plaintiff-intervenor Anderson in C.A. 74-1518, as well as consolidation with the Nixon suit. After granting the Reporters' motion to consolidate, the Court held a hearing. On October 21, the Court, in order to preserve the status quo, issued a temporary restraining order which essentially prohibited the implementation of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement and set forth the access procedures to the materials until a full hearing on the motions for a preliminary injunction could be held.

 On October 24, 1974, Lillian Hellman, and other members of the Committee for Public Justice, whose application for access had been denied, brought suit against the government and former President Nixon for declaratory and injunctive relief, seeking access to specified tape recordings. *fn23" The Hellman plaintiffs also moved to consolidate their action with the other suits.

 During this time period, several members of Congress who had introduced and supported legislation concerning the Nixon-Sampson Agreement moved for leave to appear as amici curiae, *fn24" and the Court granted their motions.

 On October 25, former President Nixon moved to amend the temporary restraining order, claiming that there was an immediate need for the original materials and tape-recorded conversations to enable him to testify in the Watergate criminal trial. The Court scheduled a hearing on the matter for October 30. In the interim, Mr. Nixon moved to consolidate the hearing on the preliminary injunction with the trial, to intervene in the Reporters' suit, and to amend his application for a preliminary injunction, in order to request immediate transfer to his possession of all the materials and tape-recorded conversations. The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al., also moved to extend the temporary restraining order. After the hearing, during which Mr. Nixon's counsel withdrew his motion to modify the temporary restraining order because the former President was too ill to testify, the Court, on October 31, granted the Special Prosecutor's and Anderson's motions to intervene in the Nixon suit, granted Nixon's motion to intervene in the Reporters' suit, consolidated the Hellman suit with the Nixon and Reporters Committee suits, extended the temporary restraining order, and denied the motion to consolidate the trial with the hearing on the motions for preliminary injunctions, which was set for November 15, 1974.

 On November 4, the Anderson, Hellman and Reporters plaintiffs (hereinafter, the "FOIA plaintiffs"), moved to take depositions and to inspect the areas where the materials were being kept. In order to provide the parties with the opportunity to make an adequate record at the subsequent hearing, the Court allowed limited depositions and also ordered the government to provide the Court and the parties with a descriptive categorization of the materials. On the same day, Mr. Nixon again moved to amend the temporary restraining order, which motion in essence sought a clarification of the access procedures.

 On November 11, the Special Prosecutor and the government filed a joint motion to amend the temporary restraining order to allow implementation of an agreement dated November 9, 1974, *fn25" between President Ford and the Special Prosecutor which provided, inter alia, that the President had determined that in the interest of justice the Special Prosecutor would have immediate access to the Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations of the Nixon Administration for purposes of investigation and prosecution of persons involved in the "Watergate" matter. Shortly thereafter, on November 13, former President Nixon filed a new motion for a temporary restraining order requesting that the Ford-Ruth Agreement be enjoined. *fn26"

 After two days of hearings on all motions extant, on November 15 and 18, the Court requested that the parties file proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law by November 29, 1974. At the request of the parties, this was extended to December 6. A few days later, on December 9, the Congress passed a bill relating to the materials covered by the Nixon-Sampson Agreement. *fn27" The Court promptly ordered that the parties brief the impact of this legislation. Those briefs were filed on December 16, 1974. On December 19, 1974, President Gerald R. Ford signed into law the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act. *fn28" In response thereto, considering the posture of the cases to have been altered by the new legislation, the parties filed the following motions: the government defendants moved to dismiss all actions, except the Special Prosecutor's counterclaim, on the ground that they have become moot; the Special Prosecutor filed a motion for summary judgment; and plaintiffs Anderson, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al., and Lillian Hellman, et al., have filed motions for summary judgment or, in the alternative, for partial summary judgment.

 III. THE CLAIMS OF THE PARTIES

 Former President Nixon, who claims ownership to the Presidential materials and tape recordings generated or retained during his tenure in office, seeks a writ of mandamus or an injunction in the nature of specific performance to compel the defendants, officers of the United States, to comply with the terms and conditions of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, including but not limited to immediately transferring the materials to California, except (a) such materials and tapes as were subject to subpoena or other legal process at the time the action was filed and, (b) such of the materials and tapes which the Special Prosecutor may designate which are needed for on-going criminal investigations and prosecutions, provided that such excepted materials and tapes, or portions thereof, shall be transferred in accordance with the agreement at such time as such subpoenas or court orders are quashed, vacated or satisfied, and the Special Prosecutor no longer has such interest in them. Further, he requests that the defendants be enjoined from interfering with the performance of the agreement and that they be enjoined from having access to the materials and tapes without his authorization. The gravamen of the former President's claim is that he has a constitutional right and duty to protect and assert the privilege of confidentiality which allegedly attaches to the Presidential materials and tapes, and that ownership and control of the materials and tapes is an essential incident of this right and duty. It is also his contention that compliance by the defendants with demands for production of the materials and tapes will necessitate a search of the materials and tapes which, without his authorization, will be in derrogation of rights and privileges afforded the former President by the Constitution. Thus, he maintains that the November 9th Agreement between President Ford and the Special Prosecutor is unlawful as it abridges his rights and duty to protect the privilege of confidentiality as well as other of his constitutional rights, particularly the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. And, lastly, the former President claims that the defendants, having entered into the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, owe him a duty to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement, which he asserts is valid, binding and non-discretionary. It is on the basis of all of the above that he seeks equitable relief, stating that he has no adequate remedy at law and that he will suffer irreparable injury without preliminary and permanent relief.

 It is the contention of the Special Prosecutor, an intervenor-defendant in the Nixon suit, and in which contention the government concurs, that the government of the United States and the Special Prosecutor, by virtue of its authorization and responsibilities, have an "overriding interest" in the Presidential materials and tapes of the Nixon Administration which supervenes any personal or contractual rights that the former President may or may not have. The Special Prosecutor also claims that this interest was recognized by the government prior to the Nixon-Sampson Agreement and that the government, by entering into the agreement, did not intend to negate this "overriding interest", nor does the agreement itself. Furthermore, the Special Prosecutor maintains that the former President does not have the constitutional right to assert a claim of privilege against his successor in office who, it is claimed, has determined by the November 9, 1974 Agreement, that the interests of justice require that the Special Prosecutor have access to the materials and tapes.

 While concurring with the Special Prosecutor in his contentions, the government does not contest the validity of the agreement, nor the right of ownership asserted by the former President in the materials and tapes. Nevertheless, it is the position of the defendants that the relief requested by the former President is barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, in that specific performance will not lie against the government for failure to comply with a contract. They also argue that since the Nixon-Sampson Agreement is silent as to when and how the agreement is to be effectuated, it is discretionary and not ministerial and, therefore, a writ of mandamus may not issue. Finally, the defendants content that any search of the materials or tapes will not violate Mr. Nixon's fourth amendment rights.

  The contentions of Jack Anderson, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al., and Lillian Hellman, et al., the "FOIA plaintiffs", are essentially identical. Having been denied access to the Presidential materials and tapes on the basis of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, they seek an injunction restraining the effectuation of the agreement and a declaration that the Presidential materials and tapes belong to the United States, and not to the former President. They claim that the Presidential materials and tapes are government records, that since the former President was a private citizen at the time he entered into the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, he could not impose restrictions on access to the materials, and that it was beyond the statutory authority of the Administrator to allow any such restrictions to be imposed. In support of this proposition, they argue that any historical practice of claims of ownership by prior Presidents was terminated by the Presidential Libraries Act, 44 U.S.C. § 2101 et seq., and that a former President does not have the right to claim Presidential privilege. Furthermore, they maintain that Arthur F. Sampson, the Administrator of General Services, failed to comply with statutory requirements when he signed the agreement and, therefore, it is null and void. Specifically, they allege that Mr. Sampson failed to perform his statutory duty to negotiate an agreement, *fn29" and also failed to confer with the National Records Council prior to signing the agreement, which they contend is also statutorily required. Furthermore, they argue that the Nixon-Sampson Agreement is invalid because it allegedly confers title to the materials and tapes upon the former President, in contravention of the exclusive power of Congress to dispose of property under Article 4 of the Constitution. They also contend that these materials and records, etc., are an emolument within the meaning of and in violation of Article II of the Constitution. In addition, they allege that the agreement is merely temporary and that there is no assurance that the former President will permanently donate the materials or even some of the materials to the United States; therefore, if an injunction does not issue, the possibility of their attaining their right of access to the materials will be forever lost. Lastly, they maintain that access to the materials and tape-recorded conversations cannot be barred by a claim of privilege by the former President; it is their position that the privilege belongs to the government and may only be asserted by the incumbent President.

 IV. JURISDICTION

 The jurisdiction of the Court in Civil Action No. 74-1518 is founded upon Title 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1361 and in Civil Action Nos. 74-1533 and 74-1551 upon Title 5 U.S.C. §§ 552, 702-04 and Title 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1361.

 V. STANDING

 Former President Nixon and the United States have, by motion *fn30" and in all their papers *fn31" and oral argument, vigorously contested the standing to sue of intervenor-plaintiff Anderson, The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, et al., and Lillian Hellman, et al. The argument is basically threefold. First, it is claimed that these parties have only a speculative interest in the materials and have not sustained an "injury in fact". Second, it is argued that the Freedom of Information Act does not provide a basis for challenging the validity of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement. Encompassed within this contention are the assertions that: the materials are not agency "records"; the White House is not an "agency"; the materials are "exempted" from disclosure under the FOIA; and the Congress does not have the constitutional power to require disclosure of Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations. *fn32"

 In support of these contentions, former President Nixon and the United States have placed great reliance upon the Tenth Circuit opinion in Nichols v. United States, 460 F.2d 671 (10th Cir. 1972), aff'g 325 F. Supp. 130 (D. Kan. 1971), for the proposition that since those persons who here seek access to the materials and tape-recorded conversations were not parties to the Nixon-Sampson Agreement nor have a claim of ownership in the materials and tape-recorded conversations, they therefore do not have standing to contest the validity or terms of the agreement.

 In Nichols, a pathologist had been denied access to certain materials relating to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. He claimed in federal court that the donation agreement between the Kennedy estate and the government was a nullity since the government had possession of the materials prior to the donation and, therefore, they were government property. The trial court held that a donor need not "own" the materials to deposit them pursuant to 44 U.S.C. §§ 2107, 2108(c), and to place restrictions on their access, as long as the materials "fall within the description of those things which may be deposited." 325 F. Supp. at 136. The Tenth Circuit upheld the ruling of the trial court and added that since Nichols was not a party to the agreement, he did not have standing to contest its validity or terms. 460 F.2d at 674-75.

 The arguments of former President Nixon and the government, however, do not really address the question of standing but, rather, go to the merits of the FOIA plaintiffs' claims. And, the opinions in Nichols, supra, are likewise infirm and should not be followed. It must be recognized that the judicial doctrine of standing is simply a correlative of the Article III requirement of the Constitution that there be a "case or controversy". See Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 101, 20 L. Ed. 2d 947, 88 S. Ct. 1942, (1953). The essence of this requirement is that a federal court will not serve as a "forum in which to air . . . generalized grievances about the conduct of the government." Id. at 106. Thus, it is necessary that there be an impact on the party which is not "common to all members of the public. " Laird v. Tatum, 408 U.S. 1, 13, 33 L. Ed. 2d 154, 92 S. Ct. 2318 (1972). The courts, therefore, have established certain criteria which must be met in order for there to be "a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness . . . upon which the court so largely depends for the illumination of difficult constitutional questions." Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204, 7 L. Ed. 2d 663, 82 S. Ct. 691 (1969). Congress, however, has determined that these criteria need not be demonstrated in certain cases. These actions, under the Freedom of Information Act, present such a case.

 The primary purpose of the Freedom of Information Act, *fn33" passed in 1966, is to increase public access to government records, Soucie v. David, 145 U.S. App. D.C. 144, 448 F.2d 1067, 1076 ( Cir. 1971), by providing a right of access to "any person" without "consideration of the interests of the party seeking relief." Id. at 1077. The FOIA, therefore, clearly effectuates important first amendment interests. See Tennessean Newspapers, Inc. v. Federal Housing Administration, 464 F.2d 657, 660 (6th Cir. 1972). Upon a denial of access, the applicant may bring a suit in the United States District Court and there obtain a de novo determination of the matter. *fn34" 5 U.S.C. § 552 (3). Thus, when access is denied, a controversy exists and injury must be presumed. To then require that the person meet the criteria for standing would be in contravention of the Act. Moreover, the "burden is on the agency to sustain its action." 5 U.S.C. § 552 (3). Thus, it is impermissible to require the person who has been denied access to prove his case at the outset, as the government and the former President seek to require the FOIA plaintiffs to do.

 Simply stated, when a party, such as the parties in the instant matter, has made an application under the FOIA and that application has been denied, she has standing to sue in the federal courts. And, questions as to whether that which is sought is a "record" within the meaning of the FOIA; whether a claimed exemption is valid, and other such questions go to the merits of the action, for which the plaintiff is entitled to a de novo determination. Thus, the opinions in Nichols, supra, to the extent that they held that the plaintiff therein, an FOIA applicant, did not have standing, appear to be in error.

 Notably, in Nichols, the trial court rejected the plaintiff's claim that the material requested belonged to the government, or was a government "record" within the FOIA, and granted the government's motion for summary judgment. 325 F. Supp. at 137, 138. The Tenth Circuit upheld the district court, but added, as dictum, that it believed that the plaintiff had no standing. 460 F.2d at 674-75. It is apparent to this Court, however, that an FOIA plaintiff, such as Nichols, has standing, even though she may not prevail on the merits.

 For similar reasons, the contention that the FOIA plaintiffs do not have standing to contest the validity of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement is also untenable. It is well settled that the exceptions of the Freedom of Information Act are to be read narrowly and that disclosure is the rule, not the exception. And, Section 552(a)(3) of the Act places the burden on the government to sustain its action. Thus, the courts have been loathe to accept mere assertions that a record is covered by an exception. The former President and the government, however, point to the Nichols case, supra, and the recent Supreme Court decision in Environmental Protection Agency v. Mink, 410 U.S. 73, 35 L. Ed. 2d 119, 93 S. Ct. 827 (1973), for the proposition that the parties herein, who have been denied access to records because of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, may not challenge the validity of the agreement.

 The Mink case does not stand for such a proposition. The Supreme Court in Mink delineated the parameters of judicial review of a denial of access under the national defense and foreign policy exemption, 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(1). The court held that once a record had in fact been classified, the district court, after the government has shown that the President has determined to keep a record secret, should not inquire into the "soundness of executive classifications. . . ." 410 U.S. at 84. The Mink decision, however, cannot be read to hold that the soundness of the assertions under all of the exemptions should not be scrutinized. And, notably, this Circuit has opined that the Mink decision does not preclude in inquiry into whether a document has in fact been classified. See Schaffer v. Kissinger, 505 F.2d 389 ( D.C.Cir. 1974).

 The exemptions under the Freedom of Information Act are to be narrowly construed. This general construction of the FOIA has been made particularly applicable to the third exemption. Robertson v. Butterfield, 162 U.S. App. D.C. 298, 498 F.2d 1031 (D.C. Cir. 1974). A court must not only examine and interpret the statute relied upon as specifically exempting disclosure. See Schechter v. Weinberger, 506 F.2d 1275 (D.C. Cir. 1974). It must also resolve any dispute as to whether the exemption has been properly invoked. See Stretch v. Weinberger, 495 F.2d 639 ( 3 Cir. 1974).

 Thus, it is the conclusion of this Court that the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, having been invoked to bar access to the FOIA plaintiffs, can be scrutinized by this Court. For, if the FOIA plaintiffs are correct in their allegations that these are government "records" within the meaning of the FOIA and do not belong to the former President, and that the Nixon-Sampson Agreement is invalid, it would do great violence to the letter and spirit of the FOIA to hold that the government, by merely asserting the third exemption, could preclude a determination of these issues and thus access which would otherwise be appropriate. And, to the extent that Nichols, supra, is contrary, it is rejected. *fn35"

 VI. JUSTICIABILITY

 A threshold issue in these consolidated cases is whether they remain justiciable. Subsequent to the commencement of these proceedings, Congress passed and President Ford signed into law the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act. *fn36" The Act, which is unique both as to its nature and because it is specifically directed at these pending proceedings, has raised a dispute as to whether, on the basis of the allegations extant and the possible relief that may be afforded, there still exists a "live dispute between the parties" which requires resolution. Golden v. Zwickler, 394 U.S. 103, 109, 22 L. Ed. 2d 113, 89 S. Ct. 956 (1969). In this regard, the Court must ascertain whether the effect of the Act is to moot any or all of the questions presented, *fn37" and whether the non-mooted questions, if any, are present in an actual controversy requiring immediate resolution and for which the Court can fashion an appropriate remedy. *fn38" In conjunction with the latter inquiry, the Court must also determine whether the legislation makes an adjudication of any or all of the questions premature. *fn39"

 It is clear to the Court that the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act nullifies the Nixon-Sampson Agreement of September 7, 1974. *fn40" The Nixon-Sampson Agreement provided essentially that the Presidential materials and tape recordings of the Nixon Administration would be "deposited temporarily" in an existing government facility. *fn41" Access to the Presidential materials was to be by a two-key system, one held by the government and the other held by Mr. Nixon, as "custodian of the materials", the latter key being "essential for access." *fn42" Access to both the Presidential materials and tape recordings was to be limited to Mr. Nixon or any person whom he designated. *fn43" As to the Presidential materials, Mr. Nixon could, after three years, "withdraw from deposit without formality any or all of the materials . . . for any purpose or use . . .." *fn44" And, as to the tape recordings, they were to be donated to the United States as of September 1, 1979, under specific instructions, but would be destroyed at the time of Mr. Nixon's death or on September 1, 1984, whichever event occurred first. *fn45" The agreement further provided that upon any subpoena or court order which demanded that the government produce either the Presidential materials or tape recordings, the government would notify Mr. Nixon who, as "owner and custodian" with the "sole right and power of access thereto," could then raise "any privileges or defenses" he might have. *fn46" Mr. Nixon was to then allow the government to inspect the materials in order that "national security or any other privilege" could be interposed. *fn47"

 Upon a careful examination of the terms and conditions of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, it is apparent that its salient aspects are: that Mr. Nixon would be the custodian of the Presidential materials and tapes, of the latter until 1979, and of the former until such time as he donated such materials as he designated; that Mr. Nixon would have the sole right of access to both the Presidential materials and tape recordings; and that Mr. Nixon would have the sole right to use the information contained in the Presidential materials and tape recordings. Thus, it is unquestionable that the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act, which provides in Title I, Sections 101(a), (b) and 102(a) *fn48" that the Administrator of General Services shall, "Notwithstanding any other law or agreement or understanding . . . retain . . . complete possession and control . . ." of the tape recordings and Presidential materials of the Nixon Administration, and that they shall not be destroyed except as provided by law, abrogates the Nixon-Sampson Agreement. *fn49"

 Although the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act moots the question of the validity of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, the Act does not resolve the questions of ownership of the Presidential materials and tape recordings, nor whether the former President may assert any privilege in regard thereto. First, with respect to the question of ownership, the Act requires that the Administrator of General Services take custody and control, but makes no statement as to who has title to the Presidential materials and tape recordings. It is apparent that Congress deliberately chose not to resolve this question. The section of the House Committee Report on private ownership unequivocally states that: "The legislation takes no position on the ownership of these materials prior to enactment of this title. The committee believes that at this time the resolution of the question of prior ownership is a matter most appropriately left for the judiciary to decide." *fn50" The avoidance by Congress of the question of ownership is also evidenced by title I, section 105(a) of the Act. *fn51" That section, while under the category of "Judicial Review", provides for the possibility that "just compensation" may be necessary. However, this would have to be predicated upon a determination by a court that there existed personal property rights in the Presidential materials and tape recordings. *fn52" Otherwise, in the opinion of Congress, "If the materials are already public property, the bill is simply an exercise of the congressional power under Article IV of the Constitution to dispose of the property of the United States . . .", and no compensation would be required. *fn53"

 Second, with respect to the question of whether former President Nixon may rightfully assert any privilege as to the Presidential materials and tape recordings, the Act is also noncommital. None of the sections of the Act which provide for access to Presidential materials and tape recordings include any determination of this question. Subsection 102(b) of title I, which provides for access in "any judicial proceeding" or pursuant to "court subpoena or other legal process," recognizes that the Presidential materials and tape recordings may be subject to the "rights, defenses or privileges" which either the federal government or "any person" may assert. Clearly, the "either-or" language of this subsection demonstrates that Congress did not resolve this question. Further, subsection 104(a) of title I, which requires the Administrator to establish regulations for public access, similarly takes no position on this question, for section 104(a) (5) provides that the Administrator must consider "the need to protect any party's opportunity to assert any legally or constitutionally-based rights or privileges which would prevent or otherwise limit access to such recordings and materials." (Emphasis added.) Those sections providing for access for both Mr. Nixon and the federal government likewise do not provide any indication whether or not Mr. Nixon has the right to assert any privilege to the Presidential materials and tape recordings. *fn54"

 In order to ascertain whether there exists an actual controversy, it is necessary to examine the nature of the proceedings. See United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 94 S. Ct. 3090, 3101, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039 (1974). The FOIA plaintiffs, whose applications for access to the Presidential materials and tape recordings were administratively denied, have brought suit under the Freedom of Information Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, seeking an injunction to restrain the enforcement of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement and a declaration that the Agreement is invalid and that the Presidential materials and tape recordings are government records and not the personal property of former President Nixon. Clearly, even if there never had been an agreement, this Court would have to determine the questions of ownership and privilege since Mr. Nixon, who is a defendant and intervenor in these actions, claims without reliance upon the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, that the Presidential materials and tape recordings are his personal property and not government records, a position shared by the government, and that they are protected by his assertion of his alleged right of "Presidential privilege". The Nixon-Sampson Agreement, therefore, is merely an additional ground asserted by both Mr. Nixon, a party in all these proceedings, and the government, for preventing access by the FOIA plaintiffs. Thus, the fact that the legislation nullifies the Nixon-Sampson Agreement does not resolve what is otherwise a live controversy.

 The question thus presented is whether this Court should at this time decide the dispute as to ownership and privilege. The government defendants and Mr. Nixon argue that any adjudication would be premature. They argue that since Mr. Nixon has filed a new suit attacking the validity of the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act, this Court should delay decision on all issues. There are, however, compelling reasons for rejecting this argument.

 There are essentially three contentions asserted by Mr. Nixon and the government as to why the FOIA plaintiffs cannot have access to the Presidential materials and tape recordings: ownership, privilege, and the Nixon-Sampson Agreement. The third ground has been eliminated by statute and, since Mr. Nixon has not contested this in this suit, the Court must presume that the Act is valid. Thus, a resolution of the first and second grounds would end these disputes. However, it is apparent that if Mr. Nixon were to be successful in his new suit, the third ground may be reasserted. While this is possible, there is no reason for both the pending and the new suit not to go forward at the same time. See Weinstein v. Williams -- McWilliams Industries, Inc., 313 F. Supp. 876 (D. Del. 1970). *fn55" Clearly, if Mr. Nixon is unsuccessful in the new suit, then a ruling in these pending proceedings would substantially advance the resolution of these disputes. If he is successful, then the Court can re-address the issues concerning the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, which have already been briefed and argued. *fn56"

 Furthermore, the issues of ownership and privilege are basic questions extant in the controversy between Mr. Nixon, the government defendants and the Special Prosecutor.

 As discussed below, those disputes require resolution at this time. *fn57" Therefore, it is obviously judicious to resolve these issues in all the pending cases.

 The defendants argue, however, by way of a motion to dismiss, that since the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act provides for "public access" pursuant to regulations to be promulgated by the Administrator of General Services, *fn58" an adjudication of these questions may be unnecessary or at least premature. This contention is unacceptable for several reasons. First, Title I, Section 104(d) of the Act provides that: "The provisions of this title shall not in any way affect the rights, limitations or exemptions applicable under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 et seq. (sic)" Further, in explaining this provision of the Act, the House Committee Report states that: "It is the intent of the committee that this section not apply to litigation now pending in which access to the material relating to the Nixon Presidency under the Freedom of Information Act and title to the materials is in issue. But, rather, it is intended to apply to actions filed subsequent to enactment of this title." *fn59" Thus, it is impossible for this Court to conclude that an adjudication of the FOIA actions is unnecessary or premature. Secondly, as previously stated, these regulations do not resolve the basic questions of ownership and privilege and they are drawn in such a way that these same questions will probably arise. *fn60" This Court will not require the FOIA plaintiffs to abandon their present actions on the mere possibility that they may be able to obtain access under the new regulations. It is a general principle that where wrongful conduct has occurred, the mere possibility that it will not re-occur, especially when it is only the statement of the defendant that it will not, is not sufficient to moot the claim for relief. See United States v. Concentrated Phosphate Export Ass'n, 393 U.S. 199, 21 L. Ed. 2d 344, 89 S. Ct. 361 (1968). This principle is particularly applicable in the instant proceedings, where the FOIA plaintiffs, having been denied access, seek a statutory injunction to "enjoin the agency from withholding agency records and to order the production of agency records improperly withheld". *fn61" The mere allegation by the defendants that access may be possible under the regulations yet to be promulgated is not enough, particularly when the criteria upon which the regulations are to be drawn negates the assertion that the wrongful conduct will not re-occur. *fn62" Third, it must be recognized that while the FOIA plaintiffs have sought access to the materials, they also seek a declaratory judgment. It is, therefore, within the discretion of this Court, considering the public interest and the purpose of the statute, to decide whether a declaration should issue at this time. See Public Affairs Ass'n v. Rickover, 369 U.S. 111, 82 S. Ct. 580, 7 L. Ed. 2d 604 (1962). It is the opinion of this Court that, given the express intention of Congress that the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act, insofar as it provides for a new avenue of access, shall not interfere with these pending cases, it is appropriate to consider the claims of the FOIA plaintiffs and, if they prevail, issue a declaratory judgment.

 A similar examination of Nixon v. Sampson , et al., reveals that while the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act has an obvious impact upon the justiciability of those claims for relief which rely upon the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, there does remain a dispute that is presently cognizable. Mr. Nixon, as plaintiff in C.A. 74-1518, seeks not only a writ of mandamus, under 28 U.S.C. § 1361, to compel defendant Arthur F. Sampson to comply with the provisions of the Presidential Libraries Act, 44 U.S.C. § 2108(c), and thereby effectuate the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, but also seeks an injunction in the nature of specific performance to compel the defendants to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement so as to protect his alleged constitutional rights, particularly his alleged right of "Presidential privilege". Since this Court has determined that the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act nullifies the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, there can be no justiciable controversy which would permit a decision on the issue of whether, under the Presidential Libraries Act, defendant Sampson owes a specific statutory duty to Mr. Nixon to effectuate the Nixon-Sampson Agreement which would not necessitate the exercise of official discretion. Such a determination would, of course, have required this Court to ascertain the validity of the agreement for it is axiomatic that a writ of mandamus will not issue to compel a government official to do an illegal act. *fn63" Plaintiff Nixon's request for injunctive relief, however, remains partially justiciable.

 To the extent that Mr. Nixon seeks injunctive relief to compel the defendants, in their official capacity, to comply with the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, the action is barred by sovereign immunity. See Larson v. Domestic and Foreign Commerce Corp., 337 U.S. 682, 93 L. Ed. 1628, 69 S. Ct. 1457 (1949). And to the extent that Mr. Nixon seeks injunctive relief to prevent certain of the defendants from interfering with the agreement, the action is, for the same reasons as those applicable to the action for a writ of mandamus, not justiciable. To the extent, however, that Mr. Nixon seeks injunctive relief to prevent the defendants from infringing upon his alleged constitutional rights, the action is maintainable and this Court has jurisdiction to make that determination. See Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682, 90 L. Ed. 939, 66 S. Ct. 773 (1946). But, the conduct sought to be enjoined must be beyond that which is sanctioned by the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act. For, otherwise, the claim would not be that the defendants were acting unlawfully, but that the Act is unconstitutional. Notably, Mr. Nixon has not amended his pleadings in this proceeding to include such a challenge; rather, he has filed a new suit for declaratory and injunctive relief. *fn64" While it would appear that the Court should therefore grant the defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint, the Court will not do so since it is apparent that if Mr. Nixon is successful in that suit, his present claims for relief would be cognizable. See Weinstein v. Williams-McWilliams Industries, Inc., supra. The Court will instead stay the proceedings with respect to those claims which are based upon the Nixon-Sampson Agreement pending a decision in the new suit. *fn65" However, the Court will decide the issue of infringement with respect to the FOIA plaintiffs' requests under the FOIA, and with respect to the November 9th Agreement, which remain justiciable.

 The controversy concerning the alleged infringement of Mr. Nixon's rights exists apart from both the Nixon-Sampson Agreement and the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act. Mr. Nixon seeks to enjoin the defendants, particularly Mr. Philip W. Buchen, counsel to President Ford, from permitting the Special Prosecutor to have access to the materials. He claims that this is not only a violation of his alleged "right and duty to protect the constitutionally-based privilege of confidentiality" of the Presidential materials and tape recordings, but also his fourth amendment rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures and privacy.

 Furthermore, President Ford, on November 9, 1974, entered into an agreement with the Office of the Special Prosecutor whereby the Special Prosecutor would be permitted to have access for the purpose of accommodating the needs of the Special Prosecutor with respect to "ongoing criminal investigations and prosecutions within the Special Prosecutor's jurisdiction." Appendix B, Intro. P . And, the Special Prosecutor, who is an intervenor-defendant in C.A. 74-1518, has counterclaimed for a declaration of the validity and enforceability of the November 9th Agreement, as well as having moved for summary judgment in C.A. 74-1518. This controversy does not depend upon the enforceability of the Nixon-Sampson Agreement, *fn66" but rather upon the basic questions of ownership and privilege raised by the FOIA plaintiffs' cases. Moreover, as previously noted, Mr. Nixon does not rely upon the Nixon-Sampson Agreement to establish his claim of ownership or his right to assert a privilege, which are necessary if he is to prevail in this controversy. Thus, these questions are squarely before the Court.

 Moreover, the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act does not resolve this controversy. Although Section 102(b) of the Act provides that: "Any request by the Office of Watergate Special Prosecution Force, whether by Court subpoena or other lawful process, for access to such recordings or materials shall at all times have priority over any other request for such recordings or materials," this section can only be construed to afford the Special Prosecutor "priority" of access, not the right of access. Nor can section 102(d) which provides for access for "lawful government use" be construed as a limitation or expansion of these rights. Thus, the questions of ownership and privilege under the Nixon suit and the Special Prosecutor's counterclaim are justiciable. Furthermore, they require immediate resolution.

 Having determined that the questions of ownership and privilege are raised in a live controversy, the Court will resolve these questions. Prior to reaching the merits, however, it is necessary to determine whether the motions for summary judgment and partial summary judgment meet the requirements of Rule 56 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

 VII. RULE 56

 Having determined that the questions relating to the Nixon-Sampson Agreement are not at this time justiciable, it is left to determine whether there are genuine issues of material fact with respect to the claims relating to ownership, privilege and the fourth amendment. Rule 56, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As to the issues of privilege and the fourth amendment, the moving parties are clearly entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. With respect to the question of ownership, however, Mr. Nixon contends that there are genuine issues of material fact which cannot be resolved on a motion for summary judgment.

 The former President claims that the evidence is not conclusive as to the practices of other former Presidents. However, the practices of former Presidents are not adjudicative facts. *fn67" Neither are they material to a resolution of the legal issues involved in this case.

 Nevertheless, the parties have submitted voluminous briefs and appendices in which the practices of many, if not all, of the past Presidents are set forth. What Mr. Nixon really contests, then, are the assumptions drawn by the other parties based upon the information therein. The Court, however, will not rely upon any of these disputed "assumptions", and will make its determination of the issues on motions for summary judgment and partial summary judgment based solely upon facts which are not in dispute.

 There is no dispute as to the nature of the "Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations." Mr. Nixon has admitted that these materials and tape-recorded conversations were generated or retained by himself and others on his behalf during his tenure in office, and that they contain documents, papers, tapes and other materials, all of which relate to the official business of the government of the United States, and many of which relate directly to the conduct of the Office of the President. Thus, the question presented is purely a question of law. The FOIA plaintiffs seek a declaration that these materials and tapes belong to the government and may not be barred from public access under the FOIA. Mr. Nixon and the government contest this claim, arguing that since Mr. Nixon owns the "Presidential materials and tape recordings", they cannot be considered "records" within the meaning of the FOIA. In this position the government concurs, and adds that the materials cannot be obtained under the FOIA because the White House is not an "agency" within the meaning of the FOIA and, therefore, these materials are not "records" within the meaning of the Act.

 Before turning to the merits, it is necessary to set forth with more particularity the nature of the "Presidential materials and tape-recorded conversations", which are estimated to comprise 42 million items. Based upon the pleadings, *fn68" the hearings, *fn69" and the submission by the government, *fn70" the Court finds that the "Presidential materials and tape recordings" are comprised of the following categories:

 
1) Materials and tape-recorded conversations of the Office of the President, generated or retained by the former President or by others on his behalf, relating to the performance of the constitutional powers and duties of the Office of the President. These communications include all the White House Central Files and all the White House Special Files, as well as many materials and tape-recorded conversations which were never in these files. These communications include memoranda, documents, and papers of the former President, the White House Staff and aides, and they include classified papers and documents relating to the national defense, and other ongoing interests of the government. *fn71"
 
2) Materials of the Executive agencies and departments relating to the business of government. These materials include documents, papers and communications of the Executive agencies and departments, as well as documents, papers, and communications sent from and between the various Executive agencies and departments. *fn72"
 
3) Materials and Communications in and out of the White House files relating solely to the private lives and activities of the former President, his family, and all other persons taking part or described in said materials and communications.73

 Because none of the above facts are disputed by any of the parties, and because the above facts are the only facts necessary to a thorough consideration of the legal issues relevant herein, this Court holds that a summary judgment under Rule 56, Fed. Rules of Civ. Proc. is appropriate under the circumstances. With this issue, and all procedural issues, now decided, the Court turns to the merits of this case and the first substantive question, that of "ownership".

 VIII. OWNERSHIP

 
POINT ONE: THE CLAIM OF OWNERSHIP OF FORMER PRESIDENT NIXON TO THE "PRESIDENTIAL MATERIALS AND TAPE-RECORDED CONVERSATIONS" OF THE NIXON ADMINISTRATION IS CONTRARY TO THE GENERAL PRINCIPLE OF LAW THAT THAT WHICH IS GENERATED OR KEPT IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND PERFORMANCE OF THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF A PUBLIC OFFICE BELONG TO THE GOVERNMENT.

 It is a general principle of law that that which is generated, created, produced or kept by a public official in the administration and performance of the powers and duties of a public office belongs to the government and may not be considered the private property of the official. United States v. First Trust Co. of St. Paul, 251 F.2d 686, 688 (8th Cir. 1958) ; aff'g First Trust Co. of St. Paul v. Minnesota Historical Soc., 146 F. Supp. 652 (D. Minn. 1956), wherein the Court of Appeals set forth the well-settled principle that:

 
"Records of a government officer executed in the discharge of his official duties . . . are public documents and ownership is in the United States."

  251 F.2d at 688. *fn74" Cf. Sandy White v. United States, 164 U.S. 100, 103, 41 L. Ed. 365, 17 S. Ct. 38 (1896); Wilson v. United States, 221 U.S. 361, 55 L. Ed. 771, 31 S. Ct. 538 (1886). See also United States v. Chadwick, 76 F. Supp. 919 (N.D. Ala. 1948):

 
"the notes, memoranda, statements and other material made and taken by [a public official] in the course of said employment, were and are, the property of the Government."

 76 F. Supp. at 923. In Chadwick, the district court in fact ordered the return of the "notes, memoranda, statements and other material" which were taken by the public officer when he left office.

 This principle has also been followed by the states. In Coleman v. Commonwealth, 25 Gratten (66 Va.) 865 (1874), the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held that:

 
"whenever a written record of the transactions of a public officer in his office, is a convenient and appropriate mode of discharging the duties of his office, it is not only his right but his duty to keep that memorial, whether expressly required so to do or not; and when kept it becomes a public document -- a public record belonging to the office and not the officer; it is the property of the state and not of the citizen; and is no sense a private memorandum."

 25 Gratten (66 Va.) at 881 (emphasis added). See also Robison v. Fishback, 175 Ind. 132, 93 N.E. 666 (1911); People v. Peck, 138 N.Y. 386, 34 N.E. 347 (1893). In Peck, the court held that information given to a public official and related to the administration of that office gave rise to an implied duty to preserve the information for the office and then the public. 138 N.Y. at 395, 34 N.E. at 355. Moreover, the court in Peck opined that the fact that the official was not required to keep the information was not determinative. Id., See also, Sandy White, supra, 164 U.S. at 103;

 This principle has also found expression in cases involving the question of whether a document or other material generated by a public official is outside the scope of his duties and therefore susceptible to copyright. The most well-recognized case in this area is that of Public Affairs Associates, Inc. v. Rickover, 109 U.S. App. D.C. 128, 284 F.2d 262 ( 1960), rev'd and rem'd 369 U.S. 111, 82 S. Ct. 580, 7 L. Ed. 2d 604 (1962), on remand, 268 F. Supp. 444 (D.D.C. 1967). The case concerned an action by a publisher for a declaratory judgment as to its right to publish certain uncopyrighted speeches given by Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, who had refused to allow the speeches to be published, claiming that he owned the speeches and that they were protected by a secured copyright. 284 F.2d at 264-65. The publisher argued that the speeches "resulted from [Rickover's] official responsibilities" and, therefore, were the property of the government. Thus, a copyright would be contrary to 17 U.S.C. § 8, which provides, "No copyright shall subsist in * * * any publication of the United States Government." 284 F.2d at 267-68 (footnote omitted). The Supreme Court, reversing and remanding due to insufficiency of the record, set forth the test for determining whether the speeches belonged to the government. 369 U.S. at 113-114. The determination was to be made by ascertaining whether the speeches were prepared "in relation to the Vice Admiral's official duties," after careful examination of the "nature and scope" of the duties of the office. Id. at 113. *fn75" On remand, the district court, finding that the use of government duplicating machinery, government paper, and the services of a government secretary not determinative, held that the speeches were not "written and delivered as a part of Admiral Rickover's official duties" and, therefore, were susceptible to copyright. 268 F. Supp. at 456.

 In the instant matter, former President Nixon contends that this principle is inapplicable to "Presidential materials and tapes" of the Nixon administration, although he admits that these materials and tape-recorded conversations relate to the conduct of the Office of the President. He argues that the nature of the Office of the President permits an assertion of private ownership, and therefore enables him to prevent access to these materials and tapes by any person without his authorization. In support of this contention, he points to the fact that the President is a "constitutionally-elected" officer, and therefore he cannot be held to the principle that that which is generated or kept in the administration and performance of a public office belongs to the government.

 
POINT TWO: FORMER PRESIDENT NIXON'S ASSERTION OF OWNERSHIP OF THE DOCUMENTS, PAPERS, TAPES AND OTHER MATERIALS GENERATED OR RETAINED BY HIMSELF OR OTHERS ON HIS BEHALF IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS DUTIES AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS CONTRARY TO THE NATURE OF THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT AND THE CONSTITUTION.

 In order to sustain the assertion that former President Nixon personally owns the documents, papers, tapes and other materials generated or retained by himself or others in the performance of his duties as the President of the United States, it must be found that an individual President is distinguishable from other public servants. *fn76" Such a conclusion, however, is untenable as it is refuted by the Constitution and the very concept of the Office of the President.

 Art. II, Sec. I, cl. 1 of the Constitution provides that: "The Executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his office during the Term of four years, and together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected as follows: . . . ." And, Sec. I, cl. 5 further provides that:

 
"In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President or Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected."

  These sections of Article II compel only one conclusion: the powers and duties of the executive inure to the Office and not to any individual office-holder; for the President, although elected to the highest office in the Nation, is but a transient holder of the public trust. Even though a President while in office may exercise specific and enumerated powers, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. , et al., v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579, 96 L. Ed. 1153, 72 S. Ct. 863 (1952), he is nevertheless a servant of the people. The President is elected by the people (Art. II, Sec. 1, cl. 1), to execute the laws made by the people (Art. II, Sec. 1, cl. 7), and may be removed by the people (Art. I, Sec. IV ); and, as recently articulated by the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia:

 
"Though the President is elected by a nationwide ballot, and is often said to represent all the people, he does not embody the nation's sovereignty. He is not above the law's commands. . .. Sovereignty remains at all times with the people . . .." *fn77"

 Former President Nixon's claim of ownership is therefore repugnant to the very nature of the Office of the President.

 It is important to remember that the original Articles of Confederation did not include a chief executive, and that there was a great reluctancy in formulating the Constitution to include such an Office because of the fear that it would lead to a monarchial rather than a republican form of government. The framers of the Constitution, however, were successful in establishing such an Office by convincing the people that a President was necessary for the proper administration of the government and that he would be in the nature of a chief magistrate and not a monarch. *fn78" James Madison argued in The Federalist No. 69 that:

 
"The President of the United States would be an Officer elected by the people for four years, the King of Great Britain is a perpetual and hereditary prince. . . . What answer shall we give to those who would persuade us that things so unlike resemble each other? The same that ought to be given to those who tell us that a government, the whole power of which would be in the hands of the elective and periodical servants of the people, is an aristocracy, a monarchy, and a despotism." *fn79"

 Thus, as the Supreme Court has cautioned, "it would be altogether unsafe to reason from any supposed resemblance between [the President and a monarch] where the rights and powers of the executive are brought into question." Fleming v. Page, 50 U.S. (9 How.) 603, 618, 13 L. Ed. 276 (1850). Rather, the President is a "creature of the Law." See United States v. Lee, 106 U.S. 196, 220, 27 L. Ed. 171, 1 S. Ct. 240 (1882). And, in order to preserve the freedom of the people, the President is bound by the law. See Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co., supra at 655. Therefore, to uphold former President Nixon's claim of ownership would be to place him above the law as well as recognize that he may assert a right to the products of the office, which would be to compare him to a monarch. This the Court cannot do.

 Further, not only must former President Nixon's claim of ownership be rejected as contrary to the nature of the office, but also because it is expressly negated by the Constitution itself. Art. II, Sec. I, cl. 6, generally known as the Emoluments Clause, provides that: "The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them." Since the materials in question are directly related to the performance of the Office of the President and are of incalculable value, it would be contradictory to and a violation of, the Emoluments clause for a President to be given or to be permitted to assert a personal right to such materials.

 Moreover, it was the intent of the framers of the Constitution to prevent the Office of the President from being a position of both power and profit. While they recognized that they could not divest the office of power, they sought to prevent the corruption of the office by removing profit. They feared that if the office offered both power and profit, the persons who sought the office would "not be the wise and moderate, the lovers of peace and good order, the men fittest for trust." 1 Farrand, The Records of the Federal ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.