United States v. Philbrick,
120 U.S. 52 (1887)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Philbrick, 120 U.S. 52 (1887)

United States v. Philbrick

Submitted December 6, 1886

Decided January 10, 1887

120 U.S. 52


Prior to the enactment in the Act of February 25, 1871, 16 Stat. 431, now Rev.Stat. § 12, that "whenever an act is repealed, which repealed a former act, such former act shall not thereby be revived unless it shall he expressly so provided," it was the general rule of law that the repeal of a repealing act restored the law as it was before the passage of the latter act without formal words for that purpose, unless otherwise provided either in the repealing act or by some general statute.

Before the passage of the Act of March 3, 1835, forbidding it, 4 Stat. 757, it was lawful for the Secretary of the Navy to make allowances out of appropriations in gross to officers of the Navy beyond their regular pay, for quarters, furniture, lights, fuel &c., and the repeal of that act by the Act of April 17, 1866, 14 Stat. 33, restored the right to make such allowances, and such as were made by him and were settled at the Treasury Department, between the date when the latter act went into effect and the passage of the Act of February 25, 1871, 16 Stat. 431, were made in accordance with the executive construction of the statutes respecting the navy and the Navy Department prior to 1835, and this Court will not at this late day question their validity.

The contemporaneous construction of a statute by the Executive Department charged with its execution is entitled to great weight, and ought not to be overturned unless clearly erroneous.

It is not decided (1) whether, after settlement of an account at the Treasury, it can he reopened by the accounting officers on the ground of error arising only from mistake of law; nor (2) whether errors in accounts with the United States, stated closed and settled by payment, can be corrected otherwise than by regular judicial proceedings instituted by the United States.

Page 120 U. S. 53

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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