Z. & F. Assets Realization Corp. v. Hull - 311 U.S. 470 (1941)


U.S. Supreme Court

Z. & F. Assets Realization Corp. v. Hull, 311 U.S. 470 (1941)

Z. & F. Assets Realization Corp. v. Hull

No. 381

Argued December 9, 10, 1940

Decided January 6, 1941*

311 U.S. 470

Syllabus

Holders of awards by the Mixed Claims Commission, United States and Germany, which were certified by the Secretary of State under the Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928 and were payable by the Secretary of the Treasury from the special fund established by that Act, sued to restrain the Secretary of State from certifying and the Secretary of the Treasury from paying later awards to other claimants, alleging that, because the German Commissioner had withdrawn, and for other reasons relative to the power and procedure of the Commission, the later awards were null and void, and that, if allowed to participate in the fund, they would so deplete it that the awards of the plaintiffs could not be satisfied. After the filing of the bill, and before service, the awards complained of were certified by the Secretary of State.

Held:

1. That the petitioners were entitled to sue to protect such interest as they might have under the Act, but as their standing rested solely upon the provisions of the Act, they could not escape its terms or avoid payments for which the Act is found to provide. P. 311 U. S. 485.

2. The certification by the Secretary of State which the Act requires as a condition to payment of an award is not a ministerial act meaning merely that the award certified is a genuine document, but is assurance by the Secretary that the proceedings leading to the award were such as duly to qualify it for payment from the special fund. P. 311 U. S. 486.

Congress had constitutional power to lodge with the Secretary of State the authority to consider and pass upon the regularity and validity of the awards made by the Mixed Claims Commission for the statutory purpose of qualifying them for payment out of the account in the Treasury, and, in view of the functions

Page 311 U. S. 471

of the Secretary of State, the nature of the claims, and the contentions to which they might give rise between the two governments concerned, Congress naturally required his news, with respect to the propriety of paying awards from that fund.

3. There is no basis in this case for concluding that the Secretary of State, in certifying the questioned awards, acted without due deliberation or failed to express his considerate judgment, as the statute contemplated. P. 311 U. S. 488.

4. For the purpose of payment under the statute, the certification of the Secretary of State is conclusive. P. 311 U. S. 489.

It is unnecessary to consider in this case whether Congress could commit to the judiciary the determination of the validity of the challenged claims.

5. In view of the statutory provisions governing the case, there is no occasion to consider the circumstances in which an international agreement or action thereunder may be deemed to vest rights in private persons, or the scope of such rights in particular cases. P. 311 U. S. 489.

114 F.2d 464, affirmed.

Certiorari, post, p. 32, to review the affirmance of a decree dismissing the bills in suits to restrain action by the Secretaries of State and of the Treasury.

Page 311 U. S. 480



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