Smith v. Jackson

Decision Date15 April 1918
Docket NumberNo. 457,457
Citation38 S.Ct. 353,246 U.S. 388,62 L.Ed. 788
PartiesSMITH, Auditor, v. JACKSON
CourtU.S. Supreme Court

Messrs. B. F. Harrah and Walter W. Warwick, both of Washington, D. C., for plaintiff in error.

Mr. Joseph W. Bailey, of Washington, D. C., for defendant in error.

Mr. Chief Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

Congress provided for a district court of the Canal Zone, the appointment of a judge, and the salary attached to the office. Act of August 24, 1912, c. 390, 37 Stat. 565, § 8 (Comp. St. 1916, § 10044). In due course the salary fixed was definitely appropriated for. It is apparent that some controversy arose as to whether the Auditor of the Canal Zone had the power to refuse to give effect to the act of Congress fixing and appropriating the salary by withholding such sum as he might think was due from the judge as rent for quarters in property belonging to the United States in the Canal Zone. We say this is to be inferred, because in 1915 the Secretary of War submitted to the Attorney General two questions: First, whether the district judge was entitled to the same privilege as to quarters in the Canal Zone there enjoyed by other employes of the government; and second, if not, whether the Auditor had authority to deduct from the salary of the judge before paying it the sum which he considered due for rent of such quarters. Reversing the order in which the questions were asked, the Attorney General came first to reply to the second question and said:

'* * * Without specific authority no portion of the salary of an officer of the United States may be withheld. See 20 Ops. 626 (1893); Benedict v. United States, 176 U. S. 357, 20 Sup. Ct. 458, 44 L. Ed. 503 (1900). * * *'

While it is apparent that this ruling should have put the subject at rest, obviously the misconception of the Auditor as to the nature of his powers prevented that result from being accomplished and the Auditor refused to carry out the act of Congress and deducted from the salary of the judge, fixed by Congress, not only a charge for rent of quarters, but a sum which he considered due because of the absence of the judge from the Canal Zone during a certain period. The judge thereupon commenced the proceeding which is before us to compel the Auditor to perform his plain duty under the law and pay the salary without the deductions. As the result of the action of the Auditor and the necessity for bringing the suit, the expense was...

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51 cases
  • West Coast Exploration Co. v. McKay
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • 26 Enero 1954
    ...54 S.Ct. 465, 78 L.Ed. 901 (1934); Higginson v. Schoeneman, supra; Smith v. Jackson, 241 F. 747 (5th Cir.1917), affirmed 246 U.S. 388, 38 S.Ct. 353, 62 L.Ed. 788 (1918). 7 See Chotard v. Pope, 12 Wheat. 586, 25 U.S. 586, 6 L.Ed. 737 (1827); Buxton v. Traver, 130 U.S. 232, 9 S.Ct. 509, 32 L.......
  • Clackamas County, Ore. v. McKay
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • 30 Abril 1954
    ...Comm'rs, 120 U.S. 390, 411 7 S.Ct. 599, 30 L.Ed. 721; Houston v. Ormes, 252 U.S. 469 40 S.Ct. 369, 64 L.Ed. 667; Smith v. Jackson, 246 U.S. 388 38 S.Ct. 353, 62 L.Ed. 788."58 In Houston v. Ormes the Court had affirmed a decree which established a lien upon funds in the Treasury. In Smith v.......
  • Edwards v. Carter, 78-1166
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — District of Columbia Circuit
    • 1 Junio 1978
    ...(1849); 6 Op.Atty.Gen. 326, 334 (1854); 20 Op.Atty.Gen. 654, 659 (1893); 25 Op.Atty.Gen. 301, 303-04 (1904). In Smith v. Jackson, 246 U.S. 388, 38 S.Ct. 353, 62 L.Ed. 788 (1918), the Court stated:(W)e are of opinion that it is obvious on the face of the statement of the case that the audito......
  • United Sand and Gravel Contractors, Inc. v. U.S.
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Fifth Circuit
    • 22 Agosto 1980
    ...noting that the specific inclusion of salaries of federal employees was intended to overcome the holding of Smith v. Jackson, 246 U.S. 388, 38 S.Ct. 353, 62 L.Ed. 788 (1918), that, absent congressional authorization, federal disbursing officers have no authority to withhold the salary of a ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 books & journal articles
    • United States
    • 1 Enero 2021
    ...1, 4 (2006) (stating that "OLC opinions are generally regarded as binding throughout the executive branch"). (72.) See Smith v. Jackson, 246 U.S. 388, 390-91 (1918) (stating that court opinions control over attorney general opinions "beyond all possible question"); see also Cherichel v. Hol......
  • Independence and experimentalism in the Department of Justice.
    • United States
    • Stanford Law Review Vol. 63 No. 2, January 2011
    • 1 Enero 2011
    ...e.g., 28 U.S.C. [section] 511 (2006) (regarding authority of Attorney General to give legal advice to the President); Smith v. Jackson, 246 U.S. 388, 390-91 (1918) (rebuking executive official who "had no power to refuse to carry out the law and that any doubt which he might have had should......

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