cabinet. (often cap.) The advisory council to an executive officer, esp. the President. • The President’s cabinet is a creation of custom and tradition, dating back to the term of George
Washington. The U.S. Constitution alludes to a group of presidential advisers — the President “may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices” (art. II, § 2, cl. 1) — but the term cabinet is not specifically mentioned. The cabinet today comprises the heads of the 15 executive departments: the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the At-torney General, the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Agriculture, the Secretary of Commerce, the Sec-retary of Labor, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the Secretary of Transportation, the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the Secretary of Homeland Security. Other officials, such as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and the director of the Office of Management and the Budget, have been accorded cabinet rank. [Cases:
United States 35. C.J.S. United States §§ 23, 53, 56–57.]
inner cabinet.The heads of the departments of State, Treasury, Defense, and Justice. • This group is so called because in most administrations it tends to be closer to the executive and more influential than the rest of the cabinet (the outer cabinet).
kitchen cabinet.An unofficial and informal body of noncabinet advisers who often have more sway with the executive than the real cabinet does. • This term was first used derisively in reference to some of President Andrew Jackson’s advisers, who, because of their reputation for unpolished manners, were supposedly not important enough to meet in the formal rooms of the White House.
“The term [kitchen cabinet] began to lose its sting after Jackson’s time. But because most
Presidents do have circles of personal friends, the idea remains. Theodore Roosevelt had his ‘tennis cabinet.’ Jonathan Daniels referred to Warren Harding’s ‘poker cabinet.’ Herbert Hoover had an exercise-loving ‘medicine ball cabinet.’ Even governors can play the game. In writing of New York’s Alfred Smith, Ed Flynn mentions the ‘golfing cabinet.’ ” William Safire, Safire’s New Political Dictionary 389 (1993). [Blacks Law 8th]