Wiener v. United States

RESPONDENT: United States
LOCATION: Hazlehurst Manufacturing Company

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)

CITATION: 357 US 349 (1958)
ARGUED: Nov 18, 1957
DECIDED: Jun 30, 1958

Facts of the case

By the War Claims Act of 1948, Congress established the War Claims Commission for the purpose of adjudicating claims for compensating internees, prisoners of war, and religious organizations. Wiener was confirmed as a member of the Commission by President Truman in 1950. In 1953, when President Eisenhower requested Wiener's resignation, Wiener refused. Eisenhower subsequently appointed a substitute to Wiener's post. The Commission was abolished in 1954, and Wiener brought a claim to recover his salary from the time of his removal to the last day of the Commission's existence.


Did President Eisenhower have the authority to terminate Wiener's membership on the Commission?

Media for Wiener v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1957 (Part 1) in Wiener v. United States

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 18, 1957 (Part 2) in Wiener v. United States

I. H. Wachtel:

Chief Justice, prior to the recess, I had set forth the historical basis for our view that this agency was a legislative and judicial body.

I'm aware of the language of this Court and other tribunals the use of the term quasi, quasi legislative, the quasi-judicial, the tendency to label.

I suggest that the Court -- that War Claims Commission in this case was truly an offspring of the legislative -- legislature performing its functions, performing duties traditionally those of the Congress, performing in the cause with those activities functions of a judicial character.

In the Humphrey's case, this Court had held that -- that Congress had us an appropriate incident of its power, the power to fix the period during which they shall continue and to forbid their removal except for cause in the meantime.

In all respects, we suggest to the Court that the agency here is far more, if I may use the term a quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial agency then in the Federal Trade Commission situation.

We think the sole distinction in this case, not in the Federal Trade Commission case, the Humphrey's case was that in the Humphrey's case Congress fixed the term -- they fixed the term here.

But in the Humphrey's case it enumerated certain causes for removal.

In the instant case, the statute is completely silent.

It enumerates no causes for removal.

We say -- we suggest to this Court that in this case, it's evident and it should be considered evident that Congress intended that there'd be no power of removal in the present.

The lesson we feel that must be learned of the Humphrey case teaches us is that the President has no inherent power, no implied power over this type of agency by virtue of the vesting of the power of appointment in it.

We feel that he has over such agencies only such power as Congress gives him because if as this Court said he does not possess an illimitable power.

In order to possess any power, it must come from some place.

It cannot come solely from the vesting of the power of appointment because Congress could easily have vested the power of appointment in the head of the department.

We say that the mere vesting of the appointment does not imply the power to remove because the whole concept of the implied power of removal was its necessity, the need for it for the President to carry out his duties and obligations.

But the duties and obligations other than those fixed in the Constitution that the President possesses what Congress gives him.

I suggest the -- to the Court that this isn't a case of Congress limiting or failing to limit power.

That in this area in dealing and creating this type of agencies, what Congress does is fix the conditions under which this agency shall operate.

It fixes the conditions under which the President may impinge on the functions of this agency.

The sole power given to the President was the power to nominate and with the advice and consent of the Senate appoint.

Having performed that duty, this agency under the basic concept of the functions and separation of power was to remain free and unhampered by any action or activity of the President in performing truly legislative and judicial powers.

Felix Frankfurter:

This -- the -- the kind of -- the concerns of this Commission were a fund that was in existent, is it not?

I. H. Wachtel:

Yes, Your Honor.

And which could be implemented from time to time by further appropriations.

Felix Frankfurter:

Who were the functionary who were the trustee we're broadly speaking at this time?

Where was its fund -- to this position of this fund lie?

I. H. Wachtel:

Well, your -- Your Honor, just ask me two questions.

The -- the funds where in the Treasury of the United States and under the jurisdiction of a depository like a bank, the Treasury of the United States.

Felix Frankfurter:

That the amount of money could be distributed among those who had defined -- who had provable claims against it to make sure the approval of -- granting defined by Congress, is that right?

I. H. Wachtel:

That's correct, Your Honor.