James v. United States
202 U.S. 401 (1906)

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U.S. Supreme Court

James v. United States, 202 U.S. 401 (1906)

James v. United States

No. 215

Argued April 6, 9, 1906

Decided May 21, 1906

202 U.S. 401

Syllabus

Without deciding whether the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia is or is not an inferior court of the United States within the meaning of § 1 of Art. III of the Constitution of the United States, it is a court of the United States within the meaning of § 714, Rev.Stat., the provisions whereof apply to judges of that and of any other court of the United States holding office by life tenure. In thus deciding, the Court follows the evidently correct construction given to the statute by the legislative and executive department of the government since the original enactment of the statute.

A Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia retiring during the year ending June 30, 1893, is entitled to receive during his retirement five thousand dollars per annum, that being the salary of the office as fixed by the appropriation act for the previous year, and the appropriation act for the year ending June 30, 1893, while only appropriating a lump sum for all the justices of the court amounting to four thousand dollars each, will not be construed a reducing the salary to that amount in view of the subsequent deficiency appropriation act appropriating an amount sufficient to make the salaries for that year five thousand dollars.

Congress has power, wholly irrespective of prior legislation, retroactively to fix the salary payable to a Justice of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia, and as the effect of the act of 1895 was a determination of Congress that the salary of the justices of that court for the year ending June 30, 1893, was five thousand dollars, this Court cannot disregard the retroactive effect of the statute.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 202 U. S. 402

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