Mary Reeside, Executrix of James Reeside, Plaintiff In Error v. Robert Walker, Secretary of the Treasury of the United States

Decision Date01 December 1850
Citation13 L.Ed. 693,11 How. 272,52 U.S. 272
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

The application for relief, in the court below, was of double aspect. First, that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to enter to the credit of James Reeside, under proper date, upon the books of the Treasury Department, the amount of the verdict and judgment aforesaid. Second, that the Secretary of the Treasury be directed to pay the amount of such credit, with interest thereon, to the complainant.

Is the plaintiff in error entitled to the relief sought, or any part thereof? It may be urged, that the United States cannot be sued. As a general proposition, it may be admitted. It is equally true that the United States may be sued with its own consent. United States v. McLemore, 4 Howard, 288; Hill v. United States, 9 Howard, 389. Its officers, in their representative capacity, may be sued with consent of the government. The right of the citizen against the government may be judicially ascertained, if the legislative department so provide; and such adjudication, rightfully had, must be conclusive, unless express provision to the contrary is made. The judiciary may be authorized to determine the right, to pass a judgment or decree which shall bind the government, and may not have authority to issue execution against the government or its property. It is equally true that it is the duty of every government, especially of the United States, to provide some mode for the ascertainment and liquidation of the claims of the citizen against the government. The mode adopted in England and in this country, in many cases, is by authorizing a resort to the judiciary; sometimes such resort is permitted in the first instance, but generally after an unsuccessful application to some department or commission. Wherever the United States have authorized recourse to the judiciary, and the right has been contested or settled by the judiciary in the mode prescribed, such judicial action upon the right—I speak not of the remedy—must be in its nature conclusive and final. Whenever and wherever a judicial tribunal is authorized to pass upon any matter or right, and it does pass upon it, it must be regarded res adjudicata, subject only to be reversed on error. The United States, in harmony with its duty, has, in many instances, authorized the judiciary to determine controverted questions between the citizen and the government. Some of those cases are submitted, for the purpose of analogy, and for the deductions which they afford in aid of the construction which will be relied upon, of the statutes which must control the present case.

4 Stat. at Large, 284, May 23, 1828, ch. 70, § 6. In which provision is made, that private land claims in Florida, not finally settled by the commissioners, may be decided by the judge of the Superior Court for the district within which the lands are, provided the claims shall have been previously presented for allowance to the commissioner, register, or receiver. Sect. 7 provides an appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States. Sect. 13, that the decisions shall be final between the United States and the claimant. Under this statute, an appeal in one case was taken to this court, but dismissed, because the original application was not made within the time prescribed. United States v. Marvin, 3 Howard, 620. The power of the court to pass a valid decree upon a proper application was not doubted.

3 Stat. at Large, 691, May 7, 1822, ch. 96. An act to empower the city of Washington to drain the public grounds. In sect. 6 it is provided, that the proprietors may institute a bill in equity in the nature of a petition of right, against the United States, in the Circuit Court. Sect. 8, suits to be conducted according to the rules of courts of equity. Sect. 9, an appeal may be taken to the Supreme Court, and if no appeal, the judgment of Circuit Court to be final. Van Ness v. City of Washington and United States, 4 Peters, 232, is a case under this statute. On page 266, Mr. Taney, arguendo, says: 'It submits their rights to judicial decision. In submitting to such a trial and decision they (the government) place themselves on the ground of contract, and waive any rights their sovereignty might give. For it would be absurd, indeed, to suppose that the United States gave to the court the mere power of hearing a cause, when that hearing could produce no judicial result.' The court, Mr. Justice Story giving the opinion, say: 'It is not necessary to consider whether the bill is so framed as to enable the court to pass a definitive decree against the United States'; thus by implication admitting the...

To continue reading

Request your trial
97 cases
  • McElroy v. Swart
    • United States
    • Michigan Supreme Court
    • September 29, 1885
    ...Clarke, 8 Pet. 436-444; Cary v. Curtis, 3 How. 236, 245, 256; U.S. v. McLemore, 4 How. 286-289; Hill v. U.S. 9 How. 386, 389; Reeside v. Walker, 11 How. 272, 290; Beers v. Arkansas, How. 527, 529; Nations v. Johnson, 24 How. 195; De Groot v. U.S. 5 Wall. 419, 431; U.S. v. Eckford, 6 Wall. 4......
  • United States v. Collom
    • United States
    • U.S. Supreme Court
    • June 10, 1976 proper only when authorized by Congress, not that public funds may be expended unless prohibited by Congress. Reeside v. Walker, 11 How. 272, 291, 13 L.Ed. 693 (1851). This particular statute contains a limited grant of authority to the courts to authorize the expenditure of public funds......
  • Whittier v. Emmet
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • June 23, 1960
    ...855, 81 L.Ed. 1272; 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346, 1491 et seq.; see Plesha v. United States, 9 Cir., 1955, 227 F.2d 624. 11 See Reeside v. Walker, 1851, 11 How. 272, 13 L.Ed. 693. The Code vests extensive unreviewable discretion in the Administrator to determine matters of law and fact in this area. S......
  • McRae v. Califano
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — Eastern District of New York
    • January 15, 1980
    ...of the necessary medical expenses of poor women, free of invalid limitations. Cf. Califano v. Westcott, supra. Reeside v. Walker, 1850, 52 U.S. (11 How.) 272, 13 L.Ed. 693, does not support the argument made from the nature of the Secretary's duty with respect to appropriations; the United ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT