Myers v. United States Case Brief

Why is the case important?

Appointee to the postmaster of the first class in Oregon was forced to resign.

Facts of the case

An 1876 law provided that postmasters of the first, second, and third classes shall be appointed and may be removed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. President Woodrow Wilson removed Myers, a postmaster first class, without seeking Senate approval.

Question

Whether under the Constitution the President has the exclusive power of removing executive officers of the United States whom he has appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

Answer

Yes. The Supreme Court of the United States (the Supreme Court) produced a long-winded opinion, examining the legislative and adjudicative history of executive appointments, including Marbury v. Madison. It concluded that Tenure of Office Act of 1867, in so far as it attempted to prevent the President from removing executive officers who had been appointed by him by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, was invalid, and that subsequent legislation of the same effect was equally so. Dissent. Justice McReynolds found that it is impossible for me to accept the view that the President may dismiss, as caprice may suggest, any inferior officer whom he has appointed with consent of the Senate, notwithstanding a positive inhibition by Congress after his own lengthy review of precedent. Justice Brandeis felt that the central issue was May the President, having acted under the statute in so far as it creates the office and authorizes the appointment, ignore, while the Senate is in session, the provision which prescribes the condition under which a removal may take place? Justice Holmes emphasized the fact that the office was created by Congress.

Conclusion

In the absence of a constitutional or statutory provision otherwise, the President could by virtue of his general power of appointment remove an officer on the ground that the power of removal inhered in the power to appoint, even though he was appointed by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, and notwithstanding specific provisions for his removal for cause. The power of removal is inherent in the power to appoint.

  • Case Brief: 1926
  • Petitioner: Myers
  • Respondent: United States
  • Decided by: Taft Court

Citation: 272 US 52 (1926)
Argued: Apr 13 – 14, 1925
Decided: Oct 25, 1926