Embry v. United States
APPEAL from the Court of Claims.
This was a suit in the court below by Bowling Embry to recover $4,644.75 as the amount of salary claimed to be due him as deputy postmaster of Nashville, Tenn., from May 27, 1869, to July 25, 1870.
The court found the following facts:--
1. On the 20th of April, 1867, the claimant was appointed by the President of the United States, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, deputy postmaster at Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, for the term of four years from that day, and the commission issued to him was in the following words:--
'ANDREW JOHNSON, President of the United States of America, to all who shall see these presents, greeting:
'Know ye, that, reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, ability, and punctuality of Bowling Embry, I have nominated, and, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, do appoint him deputy postmaster at Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, and do authorize and empower him to execute and fulfil the duties of that office according to law; and to have and to hold the said office, with all the powers, privileges, and emoluments to the same of right appertaining, unto him, the said Bowling Embry, for the term of four years from the day of the date hereof, subject to the conditions prescribed by law.
'In testimony whereof, I have caused there letters to be made patent and the seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.
'Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, the twentieth day of April, in the year of our Lord one though eight hundred and sixty-seven, and of the independence of the United States of America the ninety-first.
[L. S.] 'ANDREW JOHNSON.
'By the President:
'WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.'
2. Under this appointment the claimant entered upon the discharge of the duties of said office, and continued therein until the 27th of May, 1869, when, in consequence of an order made by the President of the United States, under the act of April 5, 1869, suspending him from said office, he delivered over said office to one Enos Hopkins, who had been designated by the President to perform the duties of deputy postmaster at Nashville, and the commission authorizing him to perform said duties was in the following words:--
PCQ! 'ULYSSES S. GRANT, President of the United States of America, to all who shall see these presents, greeting:
'Know ye, that by virtue of the authority conferred upon the President by the second section of the act of Congress, approved April 5, 1867, entitled 'An Act to amend an act regulating the tenure of certain civil offices,' I do hereby suspend Bowling Embry from the office of deputy postmaster at Nashville, in the State of Tennessee, until the end of the next session of the Senate; and I hereby designate Enos Hopkins to perform the duties of such suspended officer in the mean time, he being a suitable person therefor, subject to all provisions of law applicable thereto.
'In testimony whereof, I have caused these letters to be made patent, and the seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.
'Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, the fifth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-nine, and of the independence of the United States of America the ninety-third.
[L. S.] 'U.S. GRANT.
'By the President:
'HAMILTON FISH, Secretary of State.'
3. On the 6th of December, 1869, the President nominated the said Hopkins to the Senate for appointment as deputy postmaster at Nashville, and on the 15th of July, 1870, the Senate resolved that it did not advise and consent to that appointment.
4. On the 21st of July, 1870, the following communication was addressed and sent by the First Assistant Postmaster-General to the claimant:--'POST-OFFICE DEPARTMENT, APPOINTMENT OFFICE,
'WASHINGTON, D. C., July 21, 1870.
'SIR,-In the case of Enos Hopkins, rejected by the Senate of the United States, under date of July 15, 1876, he is, under the provision of the act of March 2, 1867, and April 5, 1869, regulating the tenure of certain civil offices, inhibited from holding, exercising, or discharging any of the duties pertaining to the office of postmaster at Nashville, Tenn. You should take charge of said office at once under your unexpired commission, for the time being and until the case can be submitted to the Attorney-General. Upon taking charge of the office you will receipt to Mr. Hopkins (in duplicate) for all the public property in his possession, and report the date of your doing so to this office.
'Very respectfully, &c.,
'J. W. MARSHALL,
'First Assistant Postmaster-General.
'BOWLING EMBRY, Esq., Nashville, Tenn.'
In pursuance of the authority of said communication, the claimant again took possession of said office on the 25th of July, 1870.
5. While the claimant was in possession of said office, prior and up to the 27th of May, 1869, he gave his personal attention to the business thereof to the entire satisfaction of the Post-office Department and of the people of Nashville, and punctually and promptly rendered to the Sixth Auditor of the Treasury his accounts of all moneys collected and disbursed by him during that period, and promptly paid over to the United States all balances due from him to them, and his account was satisfactorily settled and adjusted on the books of the said auditor's office.
6. During the whole period from May 27, 1866, to July 25, 1870, and afterward, the salary of said office was fixed by the Postmaster-General at the rate of $4,000 per annum; and the same amounted for that period to $4,645.47, which was paid to said Hopkins, and refused to the claimant, who applied to the Postmaster-General for payment of the same to him.
Upon the foregoing facts the court found as a conclusion of law that the claimant was not entitled to recover.
Judgment having been rendered for the United States, Embry appealed, and here assigns the following errors:--The Court of Claims erred in holding as matter of law upon the facts found that the claimant was not entitled to the salary of the office during the time he was suspended.
The court erred in holding that the claimant was not entitled to the said salary from the end of the next session of the Senate, after his suspension, even if not entitled to it during the time he was suspended,
Mr. Matt. H. Carpenter and Mr. J. H. Embry for the appellant.
1. An act of Congress which provides that a suspended officer shall not receive the salary and emoluments of the office is unconstitutional.
The appointment gives the officer a legal right to the salary by law attached to the office, until he is removed, resigns, dies, or his term expires. Marbury v. Madison, 1 Cranch, 137.
The Constitution provides that the President shall nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint, all officers of the United States. The power of removal is an incident to the power to appoint, and must be exercised by the President and Senate together. An act of Congress cannot vest the power of removal elsewhere. From this it follows that the claimant never was removed from the office, and, consequently, that he is entitled to the salary for the whole term.
2. Conceding the act of Congress in question to be constitutional, and that the claimant was not entitled to the salary during the period of his suspension, still, that period being fixed by the statute to expire on the termination of the next session of the Senate, it follows that from that day he was entitled to the salary. The judgment of the Court of Claims is erroneous to this extent, even should the act be held constitutional.
The Attorney-General, contra.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WAITE delivered the opinion of the court.