United States v. Taft

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Court Documents

United States Supreme Court

203 U.S. 461

United States  v.  Taft

 Argued: November 19, 1906. --- Decided: December 10, 1906

Relator was, on May 12, 1902, a clerk in the classified civil service of the United States, and employed in the War Department. On that day an article purporting to be signed by her, and making very serious reflections on the President of the United States, appeared in a newspaper published at Washington. Some days thereafter the Secretary of War directed that relator be called upon to state whether she was the author of the publication, and, if so, it was ordered that her attention should be invited to § 8 of civil service rule II., and that she be allowed three days in which to submit any answer or statement she might wish to make.

To this relator answered, admitting that she was the author of the article, but insisting that she had not been notified of any charge calling for answer under the rule.

Thereupon the Secretary entered an order dismissing her from the service, and filed a memorandum assigning as reason therefor the publication of the article.

Relator then filed her petition for mandamus in the supreme court of the District, to compel the Secretary to restore her. The petition recited §§ 3 and 8 of civil service rule II., and assigned as grounds of relief that the procedure was not in conformity with the executive regulations set out, in that no reasons for removal had been furnished relator, and also in that the real reason of her removal was because of her political opinions and the expression of them.

The Secretary answered the petition, setting out the facts in detail, denying that relator was removed on account of her political opinions, and averring that the action was taken because of the publication of the article, containing derogatory and disrespectful statements of and concerning the President of the United States in relation to his conduct as Commander in Chief, and which he decided 'was prejudicial to order and the efficiency of said War Department, and such offense as rendered the further connection of the petitioner with said service incompatible with the best interests of the same.' And while insisting that all acts done or caused to be done by him were in conformity with the civil service rules, the Secretary submitted that the petitioner showed by her petition 'no vested right, title or interest in or to the employment formerly exercised by her in the office of the Adjutant General of the United States Army, and that the relation of such petitioner, as an employee, to the executive civil service, in respect of appointment, promotion, and removal, is a matter wholly within the competence and cognizance of the political department, and the action of the head of an executive department in respect thereof is not subject to be reviewed, reversed, set aside, or controlled by a court of law, nor can his action in that behalf be commanded, directed, or compelled by the writ of mandamus, as the petitioner in her said petition has prayed.'

Relator filed a demurrer to the answer, which was overruled, whereupon she elected to stand by the demurrer, and judgment was entered denying the writ. The judgment was affirmed by the court of appeals (24 App. D. C. 95), and this writ of error then sued out.

Mr. Noble E. Dawson for plaintiff in error.

Solicitor General Hoyt for defendant in error.

Statement by Mr. Chief Justice Fuller:

Mr. Chief Justice Fuller delivered the opinion of the court:


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).