White House with non-public officials on matters of general concern where unsolicited advice has been offered.
Examination of the Act as a whole, and the indications found there, confirms the legislative history, and points to the conclusion that Congress was concerned with advisory committees formally organized which the President or an executive department or official directed to make recommendations on an identified governmental policy for which specified advice was being sought. Various provisions of the Act are designed to encourage the termination of many such committees and a reporting procedure was effectuated to bring the complexity of the problem into sharper focus. Nowhere is there an indication that Congress intended to intrude upon the day-to-day functioning of the presidency or in any way to impede casual, informal contacts by the President or his immediate staff with interested segments of the population or restrict his ability to receive unsolicited views on topics useful to him in carrying out his overall executive and political responsibilities.
There is no indication that the meetings here under scrutiny involved a presidential request for specific recommendations on a particular matter of governmental policy. Compare Food Chemical News, Inc. v. Davis, supra, 378 F. Supp. at 1050 (proposed amendments to regulations). The committees were not formally organized and there is little or no continuity. Nor is there any suggestion that the lack of formal organization arises out of a purpose to evade the statute. If the President desired recommendations on an identifiable national policy in which he is interested, in all likelihood he would not rely on a group with apparently narrow focus but would formulate policy, as has been done with past advisory committees, by soliciting the mixed views of labor, consumers, public interest groups, and other segments affected. The President has merely wisely provided a mechanism and sounding board to test the pulse of the country by conferring directly or indirectly with widely disparate special interest groups.
To hold that Congress intended to subject meetings of this kind to press scrutiny and public participation with advance notice on formulated agendas, etc., as required by the Act, would raise the most serious questions under our tripartite form of government as to the congressional power to restrict the effective discharge of the President's business.
Cf. United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 711, 94 S. Ct. 3090, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039 (1974); Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 131, 164, 47 S. Ct. 21, 71 L. Ed. 160 (1926): Soucie v. David, 145 U.S.App.D.C. 144, 448 F.2d 1067, 1080-84 (1971) (Wilkey, J., concurring).
To avoid serious constitutional questions implicit in plaintiff's position and to reach an interpretation of the statute consistent with its overall provisions and legislative history, the Court declares that the White House meetings here under review do not involve "advisory committees," since the group meetings are unstructured, informal and not conducted for the purpose of obtaining advice on specific subjects indicated in advance. Accordingly, summary judgment will be granted for the defendant, denied for the plaintiff, and the complaint is dismissed.