Kalaris v. Donovan, Nos. 82-1631

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
Writing for the CourtBefore WRIGHT, TAMM and WALD; J. SKELLY WRIGHT
Citation697 F.2d 376
PartiesIsmene M. KALARIS, Administrative Appeals Judge v. Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants. Julius MILLER, Administrative Appeals Judge v. Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants. Ismene M. KALARIS, Administrative Appeals Judge, Appellant, v. Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al. Julius MILLER, Administrative Appeals Judge, Appellant, v. Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al.
Decision Date04 January 1983
Docket NumberNos. 82-1631,82-1633,82-1707 and 82-1694

Page 376

697 F.2d 376
225 U.S.App.D.C. 134
Ismene M. KALARIS, Administrative Appeals Judge
v.
Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants.
Julius MILLER, Administrative Appeals Judge
v.
Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al., Appellants.
Ismene M. KALARIS, Administrative Appeals Judge, Appellant,
v.
Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al.
Julius MILLER, Administrative Appeals Judge, Appellant,
v.
Raymond J. DONOVAN, Secretary of Labor, et al.
Nos. 82-1631, 82-1633, 82-1707 and 82-1694.
United States Court of Appeals,
District of Columbia Circuit.
Argued Nov. 16, 1982.
Decided Jan. 4, 1983.

Richard K. Willard, Deputy Asst. Atty. Gen., with whom Stanley S. Harris, U.S. Atty., and Robert E. Kopp and Alfred R. Mollin, Attys., Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for Secretary of Labor Donovan, et al., appellants in Nos. 82-1631 and 82-1633 and cross-appellees in Nos. 82-1707 and 82-1694. Anthony J. Steinmeyer, Atty. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D.C., entered an appearance for Secretary Donovan, et al.

Theodore Voorhees, Jr., with whom William H. Allen and Douglas S. Abel, Washington, D.C., were on the brief, for Kalaris and Miller, appellees in Nos. 82-1631 and 82-1633 and cross-appellants in Nos. 82-1707 and 82-1694.

Thomas C. Fitzhugh, III and Stephen M. Vaughan, Houston, Tex., filed a pro se brief as amici curiae in support of appellees/cross-appellants Kalaris and Miller.

Mark Schaffer, Washington, D.C., was on the brief for amicus curiae Maritime Claimant's Attorneys Association in support of appellees/cross-appellants Kalaris and Miller.

Before WRIGHT, TAMM and WALD, Circuit Judges.

Opinion for the court filed by Circuit Judge J. SKELLY WRIGHT.

J. SKELLY WRIGHT, Circuit Judge:

The Department of Labor's Benefits Review Board hears appeals from decisions of Administrative Law Judges (ALJs) concerning claims for federal workers' compensation brought pursuant to the Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act of 1927, 44 STAT. 1424, as amended, 33 U.S.C. Sec. 901 et seq. (1976 & Supp. IV 1980). The Act expressly authorizes the Secretary of Labor to appoint the three members of the Board, 33 U.S.C. Sec. 921(b)(1) (1976), but is silent concerning the members' tenure and the terms of their removal. Contemporaneously with creation of the Board, the Secretary promulgated regulations providing that Board members would serve indefinite terms at his discretion. 20 C.F.R. Sec. 801.201(d) (1982). This regulation remained unchallenged for almost a decade.

In May of 1982 the Secretary attempted to remove two members of the Board without specifying his reasons or providing them with a hearing. 1 The removed members brought suit in the District Court to enjoin the Secretary from removing them. The District Court awarded the requested

Page 381

injunctions. Although it found that the Board was not an Article III court and therefore that the Board members were not entitled to Article III's guarantee of life tenure, the District Court held that Board members could not be removed without a showing of cause because Congress intended for the Board to have an independent and quasi-judicial status. We agree that the Board is not an Article III court. But because we find that Congress did not intend to make the Board independent of the Secretary, we reverse the District Court's judgment enjoining the Board members' removal. We hold to the long-standing rule that in the face of congressional silence all inferior officers of the United States serve at the discretion of their appointing officer.

I. BACKGROUND

The Longshoremen's and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides workers' compensation for certain workers not covered by state workers' compensation schemes. 2 The Act makes employers liable up to a statutory maximum for job-related injuries and deaths without regard to fault. 33 U.S.C. Sec. 904 (1976). If a dispute regarding a claim arises, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Labor will seek to resolve it through informal means. 3 20 C.F.R. Sec. 701.311-701.319 (1982). If informal resolution is not possible, the deputy commissioner will transfer the dispute to an ALJ. 33 U.S.C. Sec. 919(d) (1976 & Supp. IV 1980). The ALJ will conduct a formal hearing according to the Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. Secs. 500-576 (1976 & Supp. V 1981), 4 and has the power to approve settlements of disability, 5 to approve withdrawal of claims, 6 and to issue compensation orders. 7 Interested parties may file appeals from the ALJ's decision with the Board, 8 and from the Board with the appropriate Court of Appeals. 9 33 U.S.C. Secs. 921(b) & (c) (1976 & Supp. IV 1980).

Prior to the Act's amendment in 1972, deputy commissioners adjudicated disputed claims--conducting hearings and receiving

Page 382

evidence, 44 STAT. 1435, as well as administering the Act. Their initial decisions were then reviewable by the District Courts, with further resort, if desired, to the Courts of Appeals. 10 The 1972 amendments completely overhauled the procedures necessary to obtain benefits under the Act. 11 The amendments left the initial informal resolution of claims to the deputy commissioners, 12 but transferred the formal adjudication of claims to the ALJs and the Board. 13 The amendments thus completely eliminated the role of the District Courts in the claims process, though, of course, resort to the Courts of Appeals was maintained.

Under the new procedural scheme, the ALJs make formal findings of fact and draw conclusions of law. 14 The Board, acting as a "quasi-judicial" internal appellate review mechanism, 15 then considers the record developed before the ALJs and determines if their decisions are supported by substantial evidence and are in accordance with law. 16 33 U.S.C. Sec. 921(b)(3) (1976); see 20 C.F.R. Sec. 802.301 (1982). The Board thus performs a review function identical to that which the District Courts performed prior to the 1972 amendments. 17 The claims decisions, once considered by the Board, can be reviewed again by the Courts of Appeals, on petition, to determine if they are supported by substantial evidence and if they are in accordance with law. 18 33 U.S.C. Sec. 921(c) (1976). See Nat'l Steel &

Page 383

Shipbuilding Co. v. Bonner, 600 F.2d 1288, 1292 (9th Cir.1979); Presley v. Tinsley Maintenance Serv., 529 F.2d 433, 436 (5th Cir.1976). Thus the Board screens cases, administers Department policy, and apparently reduces the number of cases that will be taken to the Courts of Appeals; its review function, a replacement for the District Court's review, is duplicated in those cases that actually do advance to the Courts of Appeals. 19

The Board's members are appointed by the Secretary under the specific mandate of the Act. 33 U.S.C. Sec. 921(b)(1) (1976). 20 Julius Miller was appointed to the Board in 1974, and Ismene Kalaris was appointed in 1978. They served on the Board until April 30, 1982, when the Under Secretary of Labor informed them that they were to be removed from their positions on the Board, effective May 31, 1982. No reasons were given for the removals. 21 No member of the Board had ever previously been involuntarily removed from office. 22

In May 1982 Miller and Kalaris brought these actions for declaratory and injunctive relief. 23 They argued that the Board was an Article III court and that they, as judges on an Article III court, were entitled to life tenure and could not be removed during good behavior. Alternatively the complaint asserted that Congress intended in the Act to create a Board which was independent of the Secretary and whose members could therefore not be removed absent a showing of "cause."

The District Court rejected the removed members' claim that the Board was an Article III court and that they were thus entitled to life tenure. JA 144-145. But to avoid casting the constitutionality of the statute into doubt, it accepted the Board members' argument that Congress, despite its silence, meant to require the Secretary to show "cause" before removing a member from this "independent and quasi-judicial" tribunal. JA 143-144. The District Court concluded that 33 U.S.C. Sec. 921(b) (1976), the provision authorizing the Secretary to appoint Board members, would be unconstitutional if it were construed to permit the Secretary "to influence claims decisions * * * through replacement of the entire Board." JA 142. Citing numerous admonishments in two Supreme Court decisions, Humphrey's Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602, 55 S.Ct. 869, 79 L.Ed. 1611 (1935), and Wiener v. United States, 357 U.S. 349, 78 S.Ct. 1275, 2 L.Ed.2d 1377 (1958), 24 the District

Page 384

Court found that the statute barred the Secretary from removing the Board members from their positions without showing cause and providing an opportunity for hearing. 25 JA 145-146. Consequently, the District Court granted the removed members' motion for summary judgment and enjoined their removal from the Board. The Secretary appeals this decision, and the removed members cross-appeal the District Court's denial of the Board's Article III status.

II. THE BOARD'S ARTICLE III STATUS

Article III, Section 1 of the federal Constitution provides:

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

U.S. Const. Art. III, Sec. 1. This section requires the Congress to provide certain protections--specifically, life tenure and guaranty against salary diminution--for all judges on Article III courts. 26 The District Court held that the Board was not an Article III court, however, because Congress "expresses clearly which...

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76 practice notes
  • Decker Coal Co. v. Pehringer, 20-71449
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 16, 2021
    ...this framework, the D.C. Circuit has held that BRB members serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Labor. See Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 401 (D.C. Cir. 1983); id. at 381 (adhering "to the long-standing rule that in the face of congressional silence all inferior officers of the Unit......
  • Crowe v. Zeigler Coal Co., No. 10–2174.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 1, 2011
    ...Mining Co., 748 F.2d 1112, 1119 (6th Cir.1984) (Congress may empower the BRB to adjudicate black lung benefits cases); Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 388 (D.C.Cir.1983) (the BRB is not an Article III court but may execute “some functions historically performed by judges”). However, at le......
  • Labelle Processing Co. v. Swarrow, No. 95-3116
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • February 12, 1996
    ...also generally Lukman v. Director, OWCP, 896 F.2d 1248, 1252-53 (10th Cir.1990) (presenting overview of procedure); Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 381-83 (D.C.Cir.) (same), cert. denied, 462 U.S. 1119, 103 S.Ct. 3088, 77 L.Ed.2d 1349 The Benefits Review Board is bound by an ALJ's factual......
  • Bahlul v. United States, No. 19-1076
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 4, 2020
    ...power is that, in the face of congressional silence, the power of removal is incident to the power of appointment." Kalaris v. Donovan , 697 F.2d 376, 401 (D.C. Cir. 1983) ; see also Oral Argument at 14:25 (Al Bahlul's counsel conceding that "there's no tenure protection" for the Convening ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
75 cases
  • Decker Coal Co. v. Pehringer, 20-71449
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
    • August 16, 2021
    ...this framework, the D.C. Circuit has held that BRB members serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of Labor. See Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 401 (D.C. Cir. 1983); id. at 381 (adhering "to the long-standing rule that in the face of congressional silence all inferior officers of the Unit......
  • Crowe v. Zeigler Coal Co., No. 10–2174.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (7th Circuit)
    • June 1, 2011
    ...Mining Co., 748 F.2d 1112, 1119 (6th Cir.1984) (Congress may empower the BRB to adjudicate black lung benefits cases); Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 388 (D.C.Cir.1983) (the BRB is not an Article III court but may execute “some functions historically performed by judges”). However, at le......
  • Labelle Processing Co. v. Swarrow, No. 95-3116
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • February 12, 1996
    ...also generally Lukman v. Director, OWCP, 896 F.2d 1248, 1252-53 (10th Cir.1990) (presenting overview of procedure); Kalaris v. Donovan, 697 F.2d 376, 381-83 (D.C.Cir.) (same), cert. denied, 462 U.S. 1119, 103 S.Ct. 3088, 77 L.Ed.2d 1349 The Benefits Review Board is bound by an ALJ's factual......
  • Bahlul v. United States, No. 19-1076
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • August 4, 2020
    ...power is that, in the face of congressional silence, the power of removal is incident to the power of appointment." Kalaris v. Donovan , 697 F.2d 376, 401 (D.C. Cir. 1983) ; see also Oral Argument at 14:25 (Al Bahlul's counsel conceding that "there's no tenure protection" for the Convening ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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