In re Sanborn

Citation13 S.Ct. 577,148 U.S. 222,37 L.Ed. 429
Decision Date20 March 1893
Docket NumberNo. 11,11
PartiesIn re SANBORN
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Charles King, George A. King, and William B. King, for petitioner.

Asst. Atty. Gen. Maury, for respondent.

Mr. Justice SHIRAS delivered the opinion of the court.

A claim of John B. Sanborn, presented in the department of the interior, for certain fees under a contract with Sisseton and Wahpeton Indians, of 10 per cent. of the amount appropriated for said Indians by section 27 of the Indian appropriation act of March 3, 1891, (26 St. p. 989,) was referred by the secretary of that department, with the consent of the claimant, to the court of claims, in pursuance of section 12 of the act of March 3, 1887, (1 Supp. Rev. St. [2d Ed.] 561.) That court having concluded that Sanborn was not entitled to recover, and having reported its findings of fact and conclusions of law to the department, Sanborn, on the 6th day of July, 1892, asked for the allowance of an appeal to the supreme court of the United States. This application, being made in a vacation of the court of claims, was heard and denied by the chief justice, but was renewed and argued before all the judges on November 2, 1892, and was denied by the court, which adopted the opinion of the chief justice previously filed upon the motion before him.

Thereupon Sanborn filed in this court his petition praying that a writ of mandamus be allowed to the chief justice and judges of the court of claims, commanding them to allow his appeal as prayed for.

The question for us to answer is whether, where a claim or matter is pending in one of the executive departments which involves controverted questions of fact or law, and the head of such department, with the consent of the claimant, has transmitted the claim, with the vouchers, papers, proofs, and documents pertaining thereto, to the court of claims, and that court has reported its findings of fact and law to the department by which it was transmitted, the claimant has a right by appeal to bring the action of that court before us for review.

The petitioner does not complain of any illegality on the part of the court below in dealing with his claim. He concedes that the action of that court had been invoked with his consent. What he complains of is the frfusal of the court to allow his appeal, and we learn from the opinion of the court that its refusal to allow the appeal was not put upon any irregularity or defect in the claim, or in the application for the allowance of an appeal, but upon its view that the proceedings before it were not the subject of appeal to this court.

We must find an answer to the question thus put to us by a construction of the act of March 3, 1887, read in the light of the previous legislation establishing the court of claims, and regulating the subject of appeals from its judgments to this court.

This subject came for the first time before this court in the case of Gordon v. U. S., 2 Wall. 561, wherein it was held that, as the law then stood, no appeal would lie from the court of claims to this court. The reasons for this conclusion are stated in the opinion of Chief Justice Taney, reported in the appendix to 117 U. S. 697, and interesting as his last judicial utterance. Briefly stated, the court held that, as the so-called 'judgments' of the court of claims were not obligatory upon congress or upon the executive department of the government, but were merely opinions, which might be acted upon or disregarded by congress or the departments, and which this court had no power to compel the court below to execute, such judgments could not be deemed an exercise of judicial power, and could not, therefore, be revised by this court.

A similar question arose in this court as early as 1794, in the case of U. S. v. Todd, an abstract of which case appears in a note by Chief Justice Taney to the later case of the U. S. v. Ferreira, 13 How. 52, and wherein it was held that an act of congress conferring powers on the judges of the circuit court to pass upon the rights of applicants to be placed upon the pension lists, and to report their findings to the secretary of war, who had the right to revise such findings, was not an act conferring judicial power, and was, therefore, unconstitutional.

The case of U. S. v. Ferreira was that of an appeal from the district court of the United States for the district of Florida. The judge of that court had acted in pursuance of certain acts of congress, directing the judge to receive, examine, and adjust claims for losses suffered by Spaniards by reason of the operations of the American army in Florida. It was decided that the judge's decision was not the judgment of the court, but a mere award, with a power to review it conferred upon the secretary of the treasury, and that from such an award no appeal could lie to this court.

Afterwards, and perhaps in view of the conclusion reached by this court in these cases, on March 17, 1866, (14 St. p. 9,) congress passed an act giving an appeal to the supreme court from judgments of the court of claims, and repealing those provisions of the act of March 3, 1863, which practically subjected the judgments of the supreme court to the re-examination and revision of the departments, and since that time no doubt has been entertained that the supreme court can exercise jurisdiction on appeal from final judgments of the court of claims. U. S. v. Alire, 6 Wall. 573; Same v....

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57 cases
  • Chandler v. Judicial Council of Tenth Circuit of United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 1 Junio 1970
    ...Trust Co. v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 279 U.S. 716, 723, 49 S.Ct. 499, 501, 73 L.Ed. 918 (1929); In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222, 224, 13 S.Ct. 577, 578, 37 L.Ed. 429 (1893). On the other hand, if they were not, Marbury alone is sufficient authority to support a conclusion that this su......
  • Williams v. United States
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • 29 Mayo 1933
    ...or decree of the Court of Claims, United States v. Jones, 119 U.S. 477, 478, 479, 7 S.Ct. 283, 30 L.Ed. 440; In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222, 225, 13 S.Ct. 577, 37 L.Ed. 429; Luckenbach S.S. Co. v. United States, 272 U.S. 533, 536 et seq., 47 S.Ct. 186, 71 L.Ed. 394, or that the judgment of thi......
  • Penobscot Indian Nation v. Key Bank of Maine
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — First Circuit
    • 3 Diciembre 1996
    ...them"). Congress "intended [§ 81] to protect the Indians from improvident and unconscionable contracts." In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222, 227, 13 S.Ct. 577, 579, 37 L.Ed. 429 (1893); see also Cong. Globe, 41st Cong., 3d Sess. 1483, 1483 (daily ed. Feb. 22, 1871) (declaring that statute was for ......
  • Gubiensio-Ortiz v. Kanahele
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 15 Septiembre 1988
    ...of court as commissioners." Id. at 52. This holding of the Supreme Court was noted in subsequent cases. See In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222, 224, 13 S.Ct. 577, 578, 37 L.Ed. 429 (1893); Florida v. Georgia, 58 U.S. (17 How.) 478, 505, 15 L.Ed. 181 (1854). Justice Iredell, who apparently convince......
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2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • Air Force Law Review No. 81, March 2020
    • 22 Marzo 2020
    ...[140] Id. at 2182. [141] Id. at 2183. [142] Id. [143] Id. at 2184. [144] Id. (Thomas, J., concurring). [145] Id. (quoting In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222, 224 [146] Id. at 2185. [147] Id. (emphases in original). [148] Id. [149] Id. (quoting Wellness Int'l Network, Ltd. v. Sharif, 575 U. S. 665,......
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    • Sage Political Research Quarterly No. 14-3, September 1961
    • 1 Septiembre 1961
    ...anddistinguished from "the judicial power of the United States" under Article III. 3 I.CC. v. Brimson, 154 U.S. 444 (1894); In re Sanborn, 148 U.S. 222 (1893); U.S. v. 13 How. 40, 48 (1852); American Insurance Co. v. Canter, 1 Pet. 511 (1828); Hayburn’s Case, 2 Dall. 409, 410 (1792). O’Dono......

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