116 U.S. 483 (1886), United States v. Perkins

Citation:116 U.S. 483, 6 S.Ct. 449, 29 L.Ed. 700
Case Date:January 25, 1886
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 483

116 U.S. 483 (1886)

6 S.Ct. 449, 29 L.Ed. 700




United States Supreme Court.

January 25, 1886

        Appeal from the Court of Claims.


         [6 S.Ct. 449] Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for appellant.

        J. N. Douglass, for appellee.


        MATTHEWS, J.

        The object of this suit was to recover $100 as the salary of the plaintiff as a cadet engineer of the navy, from June 30, 1883, to September 1, 1883, at the rate of $600 per year, as provided by section 1556, Rev. St. Judgment was rendered in his favor for that amount.

        The plaintiff entered the Naval Academy as a cadet engineer in 1877, and graduated therefrom on June 10, 1881.  On June 26, 1883, he received a letter from the secretary of the navy giving him notice that, as he was not required to fill any vacancy in the naval service happening during the preceding year, he was thereby honorably discharged, from the thirtieth of June, 1883, with one year's sea-pay, as prescribed by law for cadet midshipmen, in accordance with the provisions of the act of congress approved August 5, 1882.  He protested against this order as illegal, and refused the pay, and, [6 S.Ct. 450] regarding himself as continuing in the service, he sued for his pay subsequently accruing.

Page 484

         The case differs from that of Redgrave, ante, 444, (just decided,) in one particular only:  that the claim is for pay after the alleged discharge.  The single question now raised as to that point is that, although the discharge may not be justified by the act of August 5, 1882, the secretary of the navy, irrespective of that act, had lawful power to discharge him from the service at will.  This authority is claimed on the ground that the plaintiff was not an officer in the naval service, within the meaning of section 1229, Rev. St., which provides that 'no officer in the military or naval service shall in time of peace be dismissed from service except upon and in pursuance of the sentence of a court-martial to that effect, or in commutation thereof;' and that, consequently, the right to remove and discharge him from the public service is implied in the power of appointment.

        In reply to this position, the court of claims, in its opinion in this case, said:  'In this view we cannot concur.  That a cadet engineer, like the claimant, was a graduate and in the naval...

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