Russian Volunteer Fleet v. United States - 282 U.S. 481 (1931)


U.S. Supreme Court

Russian Volunteer Fleet v. United States, 282 U.S. 481 (1931)

Russian Volunteer Fleet v. United States

No. 39

Argued December 12, 1930

Decided February 24, 1931

282 U.S. 481

Syllabus

1. When the United States expropriates the property of an alien friend, the Fifth Amendment requires that it pay just compensation equivalent to the full value of the property contemporaneously with the taking. P. 282 U. S. 489.

2. This constitutional right of the alien does not depend upon whether the government of his country renders compensation to our citizen in like cases or upon whether that government is recognized as such by our own. P. 282 U. S. 491.

3. The Act of June 15, 1917, which provided for war-time expropriation of ships, etc., and for payment of just compensation, expressly entitling the property owner, if dissatisfied with the amount fixed by the President, to accept 75% thereof and to sue the United States in the Court of Claims under Jud.Code § 145 for such further sum as will make up just compensation, should not be construed as limited, with respect to alien suitors, by Jud.Code § 155, which provides that

"Aliens who are citizens or subjects of any government which accords to citizens of the United States the right to prosecute claims against such government in its courts shall have the privilege of prosecuting claims against the United States in the Court of Claims, whereof such court, by reason of their subject matter and character, might take jurisdiction."

So held in the case of a Russian corporation where the property was taken under the 1917 Act after the recognition by the United, states of the Provisional Government of Russia, successor to the

Page 282 U. S. 482

Imperial Government of that country, and where the suit was brought after the overthrow of the Provisional Government, which has no recognized successor. P. 282 U. S. 491.

4. Where a statute presents no difficulty if read according to its terms, a condition that would raise a grave questions of it constitutionality should not be implied. P. 282 U. S. 492.

68 Ct.Cls. 32 reversed.

Certiorari, 281 U.S. 711, to review a judgment of the Court of Claims rejecting a claim for want of jurisdiction.

Page 282 U. S. 486



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