Rodgers v. United States,
185 U.S. 83 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Rodgers v. United States, 185 U.S. 83 (1902)

Rodgers v. United States

No. 317

Argued February 26, 1902

Decided April 7, 1902

185 U.S. 83


Where there are two statutes, the earlier special and the later general, (the terms of the general being broad enough to include the matter provided for in the special), the fact that the one is special and the other is general creates a presumption that the special is to be considered as remaining an exception to the general, and the general will not be understood as repealing the special unless a repeal is expressly named, or unless the provisions of the general are manifestly inconsistent with those of the special.

Page 185 U. S. 84

Section 7 of the Act of March 3, 1899, c. 413, 30 Stat. 1004, in effect abolishes the rank of Commodore, at least as far as respects the active list of the line of the Navy, and lifts those in that rank to that of rear admiral. Clearly that was a special provision in respect to which the attention of Congress was at the time directed, and when, in section 13, Congress prescribed a general rule for the salaries of naval officers, such general rule cannot be understood as repealing that special provision.

That section fixed the amount of the salary, but did not affect any general provisions of law affecting a difference between salary while at sea and while on shore.

This is an appeal from the Court of Claims. The claimant, Frederick Rodgers, a rear admiral of the line of the Navy, brought suit to recover the sum of $3,358, 13, which he claims as the balance due him on account of pay and allowances for the period between March 3, 1899, and March 2, 1901. The claim is founded upon the law of Congress known as the "Navy Personnel Act," which was approved on March 3, 1899, and entitled "An Act to Reorganize and Increase the Efficiency of the Personnel of the Navy and Marine Corps of the United States." 30 Stat. 1004.

The applicable sections are seven and thirteen, which, omitting irrelevant portions, read:

"SEC. 7. That the active list of the line of the Navy, as constituted by section one of this act, shall be composed of eighteen rear admirals, seventy captains, one hundred and twelve commanders, one hundred and seventy lieutenant commanders, three hundred lieutenants, commanders, three hundred lieutenants, three hundred and fifty lieutenants (junior grade) and ensigns: Provided, That each rear admiral embraced in the nine lower numbers of that grade shall receive the same pay and allowance as are now allowed a brigadier general in the Army. Officers, after performing three years' service in the grade of ensign, shall, after passing the examinations now required by law, be eligible to promotion to the grade of lieutenant (junior grade): Provided, That when the office of chief of bureau is filled by an officer below the rank of rear admiral, said officers shall, while holding said office, have the rank of rear admiral and receive the same pay and allowance as are now allowed a brigadier general in the Army: And provided further, That nothing

Page 185 U. S. 85

contained in this section shall be construed to prevent the retirement of officers who now have the rank or relative rank of commodore with the rank and pay of that grade. . . ."

"SEC. 13. That, after June thirtieth, 1899, commissioned officers of the line of the Navy and of the Medical and Pay Corps shall receive the same pay and allowances, except forage, as are or may be provided by or in pursuance of law for the officers of corresponding rank in the Army; Provided, That such officers, when on shore, shall receive the allowances, but fifteen percentum less pay than when on sea duty; but this provision shall not apply to warrant officers commissioned under section twelve of this act: Provided further that when naval officers are detailed for shore duty beyond seas, they shall receive the same pay and allowances as are or may be provided by or in pursuance of law for officers of the Army detailed for duty in similar places. . . . And provided further that no provision of this act shall operate to reduce the present pay of any commissioned officer now in the Navy, and in any case in which the pay of such an officer would otherwise be reduced, he shall continue to receive pay according to existing law: And provided further that nothing in this act shall operate to increase or reduce the pay of any officer now on the retired list of the Navy."

By section 1466 of the Revised Statutes of the United States, it was, among other things, provided:

"SEC. 1466. The relative rank between officers of the Navy, whether on the active or retired list, and officers of the Army, shall be as follows, lineal rank only being considered:"

"* * * *"

"Rear admirals with major generals."

"Commodores with brigadier generals."

"Captains with colonels."

The findings show that the claimant was appointed and commissioned a rear admiral on March 3, 1899. From that date until March 2, 1901, he was one of the rear admirals "embraced in the nine lower numbers of that grade." He served on shore from March 3, 1899, to February 13, 1901, and for the rest of the time at sea. While at sea, he received the same pay as was

Page 185 U. S. 86

"allowed a brigadier general in the Army," and while on shore, he received pay at the same rate less fifteen percent, together with commutation in lieu of allowance of quarters. Judgment was rendered in favor of the United States, 36 Ct.Cl. 266, from which judgment the claimant took this appeal.

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