that "the courts must presume that the committees of Congress will exercise their powers responsibly and with due regard for the rights of affected parties." Exxon at 589. Thus, "absent a showing that it is 'evident' that Congress intends to make [confidential information] divulged to it . . . publicly available" the third party has no right to injunctive relief blocking the disclosure of the information to Congress.
The lesson of all these cases is that a confidentiality interest on the part of the owner of the documents is not enough to prevent their disclosure to Congress pursuant to a legitimate legislative interest. If Harris is to prevail, he must demonstrate to this court that his interest, and the interest of the sovereign state of Illinois, overcomes whatever interest the Committee staff has in the disputed documents. The battle here turns precisely on the question whether a state which owns documents in the possession of another, has the right to enforce a contract which would prevent the other from disclosing those documents pursuant to the legitimate interest of a body which, at the moment, does not exist.
This court has already held that the Committee subpoena for the disputed records is invalid. The same circumstance which has made the subpoena invalid, that is, the adjournment sine die of the House of Representatives, greatly weakens the Committee staff's legislative interest in the documents.
The court now turns to the balance between the Committee staff's interest and Illinois' right to control its property.
Illinois is a sovereign state. These are not empty words, they invoke deep constitutional significance. The state's power is not unfettered, it is limited by Article 1, § 10 of the Constitution as well as by the Supremacy clause. The Committee staff has invoked neither here. The Supreme Court has only recently held that "under our federal system, the States possess sovereignty concurrent with that of the Federal Government, subject only to limitations imposed by the Supremacy Clause." Tafflin v. Levitt, 493 U.S. 455, 107 L. Ed. 2d 887, 110 S. Ct. 792 (1990). Although one could never tell it from the Committee staff's briefs, Harris is not a minion of the Board, scurrying here and there to carry out investigations at the Board's behest who now, ungratefully, bites the hand that feeds him by requesting the opportunity to defend what is his. Rather, he is an officer of the State of Illinois, carrying out the duties imposed upon him by his office. This court will not deprecate that role.
As this court has explained, confidentiality interests, standing alone, are not an adequate reason to thwart a Congressional inquiry. See Exxon Corp. v. F.T.C., 191 U.S. App. D.C. 59, 589 F.2d 582 (D.C.Cir. 1978); Ashland Oil, Inc. v. F.T.C., 179 U.S. App. D.C. 22, 548 F.2d 977 (D.C.Cir. 1976) (the courts must presume that the committees of Congress will exercise their powers responsibly and with due regard for the rights of affected parties). But Harris has asserted more than a mere confidentiality interest here. He has asserted the right of a sovereign state to control its own property. This case is not analogous to U.S. v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683, 41 L. Ed. 2d 1039, 94 S. Ct. 3090, where the Supreme Court refused to quash a subpoena directed to the president of the United States. No one has subpoenaed Harris. He is merely asking for his property back so that, should a subpoena issue, it will be directed to the owner of the documents. Thus, he will have the opportunity to resist the subpoena through the channels which have been provided by Congress, namely, 2 U.S.C. § 192. His request is reasonable, it is made on behalf of a state with sovereignty "concurrent with that of the Federal Government" and it must overcome the weak interest asserted by the Committee staff.
The court notes that the preferred resolution for this matter would have been a settlement. See U.S. v. American Tel. & Tel. Co., 185 U.S. App. D.C. 254, 567 F.2d 121, 127 (D.C.Cir. 1977) ("each branch [of government] should take cognizance of an implicit constitutional mandate to seek optimal accommodation through a realistic evaluation of the needs of the conflicting branches in the particular fact situation"). All of the parties representations to this court indicated that their positions were far from irreconcilable. Nonetheless, due to the reticence, nay the refusal, of the Committee and despite repeated admonitions by the court that a negotiated settlement was the best method of resolving this dispute,
the parties have been unable to settle this matter. This court once again expresses its disappointment that a settlement agreement was not achieved when by all presents it could have been.
Preliminary Injunction Standard
A court considering whether to grant a preliminary injunction must consider four factors, evaluating them on a "sliding scale". See Illinois Psychological Association v. Falk, 818 F.2d 1337, 1340 (7th Cir. 1987). The factors are:
1. Whether plaintiff has an adequate remedy at law -- i.e. will the plaintiff suffer irreparable harm if the preliminary injunction is not issued;