Letter from David A. Clarke


May 22, 1996

David A. Clarke

Charles F.C. Ruff,
Corporation Counsel
441 4th Sheet, N.W., Suite 1150
Washington, D.C. 20004

Dear Mr. Ruff:

I am writing to request an expedited legal opinion on whether the District of Columbia government has any legal basis for seeking judicial relief to enjoin the federal government's vehicular restrictions around the White House or to seek compensation for damages resulting from these vehicular restrictions. If there is a sound legal basis for pursuing such a case, I would strongly encourage the Office of the Corporation Counsel to do so.

I recognize that the United States Departments of Justice and the Treasury believe that there are federal statutes that give the Secretary of the Treasury, through the Secret Service broad authority to act on behalf of the President's security (see attached copies of Legal memoranda from the General Counsel of the Department of the Treasury and from the Office of Legal Counsel of the Department of Justice). However, I believe that there are other federal and local laws which establish processes which are necessary to effectuate the vehicular restrictions which have been imposed around the White House, and with which the federal government has not properly complied. These laws include the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the local Street and Alley Closing and Acquisition Procedures Act of 1982.

Whether or not legal authority exists for what the federal government has done to certain streets around the White House during the past year, or for what the federal government plans to do in recently announcing "permanent'' design options for Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House (all of which restrict vehicular access to the sheet), there is no question in my mind that District of Columbia residents, businesses and visitors have suffered and will continue to suffer significant costs as a result of these actions, for which there has been no adequate compensation, if at all. In this regard. Attached is a copy of a resolution adopted by the Council in July of last year, along with a recent statement on the issue by myself and Councilmember Frank Smith.

Please let me know your legal opinion on this matter as soon as possible.

David A. Clarke

Pennsylvania Ave. Closure || Peace Park