United States v. Lovett
328 U.S. 303 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303 (1946)

United States v. Lovett

Argued May 3, 6, 1946

Decided June 3, 1946*

328 U.S. 303

Syllabus

1. The issue as to the validity of § 304 of the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1943, providing that, after November 15, 1943, no salary or other compensation shall be paid to certain employees of the Government (specified by name) out of any monies then or thereafter appropriated except for services as jurors or members of the armed forces, unless they were again appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate prior to such date, is not a mere political issue over which Congress has final say, and a challenge to its constitutionality presents a justiciable question to the courts. P. 328 U. S. 313.

(a) It is not a mere appropriation measure over which Congress has complete control. P. 328 U. S. 313.

(b) Its purpose was not merely to cut off the employees' compensation through regular disbursing channels, but permanently to bar them from government service, except as jurors or soldiers -- because of what Congress thought of their political beliefs. P. 328 U. S. 313.

(c) The Constitution did not contemplate that congressional action aimed at three individuals, which stigmatized their reputations and seriously impaired their chances to earn a living, could never be challenged in court. P. 328 U. S. 314.

2. Section 304 violates Article I, § 3, cl. 9 of the Constitution, which forbids the enactment of any bill of attainder or ex post facto law. P. 328 U. S. 315.

(a) Legislative acts, no matter what their form, that apply either to named individuals or to easily ascertainable members of a group in such a way as to inflict punishment on them without a judicial trial, are bills of attainder prohibited by the Constitution. Cummins v. Missouri, 4 Wall. 277; Ex parte Garland, 4 Wall. 333. P. 328 U. S. 315.

(b) Section 304 clearly accomplishes the punishment of named individuals without a judicial trial. P. 328 U. S. 316.

Page 328 U. S. 304

(c) The fact that the punishment is inflicted through the instrumentality of an Act specifically cutting off the pay of certain named individuals found by Congress to be guilty of disloyalty make it no less effective than if it had been done by an Act which designated the conduct as criminal. P. 328 U. S. 316.

104 Ct.Cls. 557, 66 F.Supp. 142, affirmed.

The Court of Claims entered judgments in favor of certain government employees for services rendered after November 15, 1943, to whom § 304 of the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act of 1943, 57 Stat. 431, 450, forbade payment of any compensation after that date from appropriated funds. 104 Ct.Cls. 557, 66 F.Supp. 142. This Court granted certiorari. 327 U.S. 773. Affirmed, p. 328 U. S. 318.

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