Supreme Court of the United States - 491 U.S. 440
The Supreme Court ruled that the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary's consultations with the Department of Justice regarding potential nominees for federal judgeships are not subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The court determined that the denial of access to the ABA Committee's activities constitutes a distinct injury that provides standing to sue, similar to the denial of requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. The court concluded that FACA's restrictions do not apply to every informal group or organization from which the President seeks advice, and emphasized the need to examine indicators of congressional intent beyond the statutory language to determine the intended scope of the term "utilize." Congress sought to increase public accountability and reduce wasteful spending on Executive Branch advisory committees, which could be achieved without expanding coverage to privately organized committees that did not receive federal funds.
The legal case concerns whether the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) applies to the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Federal Judiciary, which advises the Department of Justice on potential nominees for federal judgeships. The Court concluded that FACA does not apply to the ABA Committee, but the author disagrees, arguing that the plain language of the statute should be followed unless it leads to absurd consequences. The author believes that FACA is intended to cover a widespread problem in the organization and operation of the Federal Government, and that the Court's focus on the ABA Committee is too narrow. The author argues that the ABA Committee meets the requirements for a "utilized" advisory committee under FACA, and the Court's dismissal of the GSA's interpretation of FACA in favor of its own, based on the "spirit" of the Act, is not a valid reason for disregarding the agency's binding interpretation of the statute. The author disagrees with the Court's interpretation of FACA and believes that the ABA Committee should be covered by FACA, which presents a constitutional issue.
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