Keim v. United States
177 U.S. 290 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Keim v. United States, 177 U.S. 290 (1900)

Keim v. United States

No. 57

Submitted March 5, 1900

Decided April 9, 1900

177 U.S. 290

Syllabus

Keim was honorably discharged from the military service by reason of disability resulting from injuries received in it. He passed the civil service examination, and, after service in the Post Office Department, was transferred to the Department of the Interior at his own request. Soon after, he was discharged because his rating was inefficient. No other charge was made against him. Held that the courts of the United States could not supervise the action of the head of the Department of the Interior in discharging him.

This case comes on appeal from a decree of the Court of Claims dismissing appellant's petition. 33 Ct.Cl. 174. The findings of that court show that petitioner was, on April 17, 1865, honorably discharged from the military service of the United States by reason of disability resulting from injuries received in such service. He passed the civil service examination, and on May 7, 1888, was appointed to a clerkship in the Post Office Department. On March 16, 1893 at his own request and on the certificate of the civil service commission, he was transferred

Page 177 U. S. 291

to the Department of the Interior and assigned to a clerkship in class 1 in the Pension Bureau, with a salary of $1,200 per year. On March 1, 1894, his salary was reduced to $1,000 per annum, at which salary he continued to serve to July 31, 1894, when he was discharged, and has not since been permitted to perform the duties of his clerkship, although ready and willing to do so. The discharge by the Secretary of the Interior was made upon this recommendation from the Commissioner of Pensions:

"The discharge of Mr. Morris Keim was recommended because of his rating as inefficient. No other charges are made against him. William Lochren, Commissioner."

The fourth and sixth findings are as follows:

"IV. At the time of his said discharge, the requirements of the public service in said Pension Bureau demanded the retention of a clerk in plaintiff's place; the Secretary of the Interior, upon the recommendation of the Commissioner of Pensions, retained at the time of plaintiff's discharge, and now retains, other clerks of the same division who have received since plaintiff's discharge, and are now receiving, the same salary, to-wit, $1,000 per annum (one receiving $1,200 per annum), who have not been honorably discharged from the military or naval service of the United States and who are not shown to this Court, except as in these findings set forth, to have possessed at the time of plaintiff's discharge better or inferior business capacity for the proper discharge of the duties of their said offices than the qualifications for the said duties possessed by plaintiff at that time. On or about the day plaintiff received notice of his discharge, additional clerks were appointed to duties in the same division in which he served in said bureau, who never rendered any military or naval service. It does not appear that any of these clerks was regarded or reported as inefficient by any superior officer, nor does it appear that those so retained or those thereafter appointed possessed better, or equal, or inferior qualifications for the discharge of the duties of their respective offices than those possessed therefor by the plaintiff."

"VI. There is no evidence that the plaintiff made any effort to secure other employment, or that he has or has not been employed at any kind of work from and after his said discharge,

Page 177 U. S. 292

July, 1894. Nor is there evidence as to the difference in amount between his salary while in the government service and any moneys he might have earned or could have reasonably earned or has earned in other ways since his said discharge."

The petitioner requested additional findings, of which the only portions material to this inquiry are in the latter part of finding 3, that

"he was formally discharged from said service, without any fault of his own and without just cause, and has not since said last-named date been permitted to discharge the duties of said clerkship, although he has at all times, since said last-named date, stood ready and willing to discharge the duties thereof."

And finding 5:

"That petitioner was at the time of his so-called discharge an efficient clerk, and discharged his duties faithfully and efficiently, and at the time of his said discharge he possessed and now possesses the necessary business capacity for the proper discharge of the duties of said clerkship."

These findings the court declined to make, "deeming said requested findings, if true, to be irrelevant to the issue presented."

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