United States ex Rel. Goodrich v. Guthrie
58 U.S. 284 (1845)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States ex Rel. Goodrich v. Guthrie, 58 U.S. 17 How. 284 284 (1845)

United States ex Rel. Goodrich v. Guthrie

58 U.S. (17 How.) 284

Syllabus

The Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia had not the power to issue a writ of mandamus commanding the Secretary of the Treasury to pay a judge of the Territory of Minnesota his salary for the unexpired term of his office, from which he had been removed by the President of the United States.

No court has the power to command the withdrawal of money from the Treasury of the United States to pay any individual claim whatever.

A mandamus can issue only in cases where the act to be done is merely ministerial, and with regard to which nothing like judgment or discretion in the performance of his duties is left to the officer.

The question whether or not the President has power to remove a territorial judge argued but not decided in the present case.

The facts were these:

On the 19th March, 1849, the President appointed, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, A. Goodrich, to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory of Minnesota for four years, which appointment was accepted.

On 21st of October, 1851, the President of the United States thought proper to remove Mr. Goodrich and to appoint Jerome Fuller to the office, of which removal Mr. Goodrich was informed by an official letter from the Department of State dated 22 October, 1851, and received by him on 30 November, 1851, as stated by him.

Page 58 U. S. 285

Mr. Goodrich denied the power of the President to remove him from office during the term of four years, and claimed his salary from and after his removal. The accounting officers of the Treasury paid him his salary up to 30th November, 1851, and refused to pay beyond that day.

Mr. Goodrich moved the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Columbia and County of Washington for a rule upon the Secretary of the Treasury to show cause why a mandamus should not issue to compel the payment of the salary to Mr. Goodrich up to 19th March, 1853, when the term named in his commission expired. The court refused to grant the rule.

From this refusal, Mr. Goodrich brought the case up to this Court by writ of error.

Page 58 U. S. 301

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