Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

Argument for Plaintiff in Error.

act vested the affairs of the District in a commission, consisting of three persons to be appointed by the President of the United States by and with the advice and consent of the senate. This commission was invested with large and ample powers for the administration of the general affairs of the District, but had no power or authority in matters relating to the schools or to the police. With respect, however, to the appointment and removal from office of persons employed in other capacities, and those officers themselves, it provided, in § 2, as follows: “Said commissioners are hereby authorized to abolish any office, to consolidate two or more offices, reduce the number of employés, remove from office, and make appointments to any office authorized by law.” Act of June 20, 1874, 18 Stat. 116, c. 337.

Affairs remained thus until 1878. On the 11th of June of that year an act was passed entitled “ An act providing a permanent form of government for the District of Columbia." 20 Stat. 102, c. 180. This act continued in force the main provisions of the act of 1874, enlarged the power and authority of the commissioners in some respects, especially with regard to the schools and the police, and retained the provision respecting officers, above quoted, from the act of 1874. Its sixth section is as follows: “That from and after the first day of July, 1878, the board of metropolitan police and the board of school trustees shall be abolished; and all the powers and duties now exercised by them shall be transferred to the said commissioners of the District of Columbia, who shall have authority to employ such officers and agents and to adopt such provisions as may be necessary to carry into execution the powers and duties devolved upon them by this act.

The court below held that the section just quoted had the effect of repealing $ 354 of the Revised Statutes relating to the District, prescribing certain qualifications for officers and members of the police force, and gave to the commissioners full power and authority to appoint to such offices whoever they might choose, under such regulations as they might adopt.

Mr. Assistant Attorney General Maury for plaintiff in error.

Argument for Plaintiff in Error.

The result of the decision of the court below is that the act of June 11, 1878, 20 Stat. 102, c. 180, has repealed section 354 of the Revised Statutes relating to the District of Columbia. So that, under this view, a person "who cannot read and write the English language,” or who has been “indicted and convicted of crime,” or “who has not served in the army or navy of the United States and received an honorable discharge,” may be appointed to any position in the metropolitan police. In a word, the decision is that Congress has legislated so unwisely as to do away with all law prescribing the qualifications of members of the police force, and leave the matter to the commissioners, unreservedly.

The act of 1878, which is supposed to have produced this effect, contains no words of repeal, but the court below held that there was a necessary implication in the act of an intention to repeal section 354.

If the act of 1878 had prescribed what the qualifications for appointments to the police force should be, the intention to supplant section 354 would have been clear; but the act is silent on the subject. Upon what ground of construction can we say that the old law requiring that a policeman shall have certain qualifications is impliedly repealed by the subsequent law? There is no inconsistency between the full power over appointments and removals in the police force given to the District commissioners and the previous law requiring that a policeman should read and write English, be a citizen of the United States, should not have been convicted of crime, and should have served in the army or navy and been honorably discharged therefrom.

If section 354 is repealed, then is also section 357, forbidding a member of the police force to receive, under any pretence whatever, “any present, fee or emolument for police services other than the regular salary and pay provided by this chapter, except by consent of the board of police;" and the same may be said of section 351, requiring that the members of the police force shall be required to take an oath of office, and other sections which need not be particularly mentioned.

That Congress had no intention whatever of repealing sec

Argument for Plaintiff in Error.

tion 354 is conclusively shown by section 4 of the act of January 31, 1883, 22 Stat. 412, c. 41, which is in the following words: “That the commissioners may, and they are hereby, authorized to appoint not more than six privates, to be members of the police force, from among citizens of the United States who have or have not served in the Army and Navy of the United States, but who shall possess all the other qualifications prescribed by section three hundred and fifty-four of the Revised Statutes of the United States relating to the District of Columbia.”

This section is not referred to in the opinion of the learned judge of the court below. Had it been brought to the attention of the court it would, we conceive, have compelled a judgment in support of the plea. Congress, it thus appears, clearly recognized section 354 as a part of the subsisting law regulating the police force of the District as much as seven years before the so-called appointment of the defendant in error, Hutton.

Nothing is more improbable than that Congress should have harbored the purpose to deprive the police force of the District of the great advantage of being recruited from men honorably discharged from the army and navy, bringing as they do into the force the tone of the regular military service. It is a mistake to suppose that this requirement was intended to be temporary

The case of Eckloff v. District of Columbia, 135 U. S. 240, does not conflict with our theory, because it holds that in the matter of appointments and removals from the police force the act of 1878 had superseded and repealed the previous law, · which is undoubtedly correct.

But it is to be remembered that it was “the powers and duties” of the police board only that were transferred to the commissioners by section 6 of the act of 1878. Now these “powers and duties” did not extend to the subject of the qualifications of members of the police force, nor can it be said that the existence of section 354, prescribing such qualifications, is, in any just sense, an interference with or a restriction upon the appointing power of the commissioners, or is in any

Opinion of the Court.

way incompatible with the act of 1878. Nobody doubts that Congress may prescribe qualifications for office without at all invading the power of appointment of the President, let alone the commissioners of the District.

The appointment of Hutton being in violation of law, the District of Columbia cannot be compelled to make compensation for services rendered by him under that appointment.

Mr. Andrew B. Duvall for defendant in error.

MR. JUSTICE LAMAR, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The question of the repealing effect of the act of 1878 was before us in Eckloff v. District of Columbia, 135 U. S. 240. In that case the question was, whether that statute had repealed $ 355 of the Revised Statutes relating to the District of Columbia, which provided that no person should be removed from the police force except upon written charges preferred against him to the board of police, and after an opportunity should have been afforded him of being heard in his defence. The court decided that the repeal had been effected, and that the District commissioners, under the power conferred upon them by those

, sections of the act of 1878 to which we have referred, might summarily dismiss and remove a member or officer from the police force.

In its opinion, the court considered the effect of the merging, as it were, by the act of 1878, of the powers and duties formerly belonging to the metropolitan police board with those plenary powers over the other affairs of the District which had been vested in the commissioners by the act of 1874, and held that the commissioners, under the act of 1878, had the same unlimited and plenary power respecting the appointment and removal of police officers, as they had had under the act of 1874, and continued to have under the act of 1878, over the other affairs of the District.

The court, however, did not rest its decision and judgment upon that point alone, but went into a consideration of the

Opinion of the Court.

general object and purpose of the act of 1878, with respect to the government of the District, and said :

“But our conclusions are not controlled by this construction alone. The court below placed its decision on what we conceive to be the true significance of the act of 1878. As said by that court, it is to be regarded as an organic act, intended to dispose of the whole question of a government for this District. It is, as it were, a constitution for the District. It is declared by its title to be an act to provide 'a permanent form of government for the District. The word permanent is suggestive. It implies that prior systems had been temporary and provisional. As permanent it is complete in itself. It is the system of government. The powers which are conferred are organic powers. We look to the act itself for their extent and limitations. It is not one act in a series of legislation, and to be made to fit into the provisions of the prior legislation, but is a single complete act, the outcome of previous experiments, and the final judgment of Congress as to the system of government which should obtain. It is the constitution of the District, and its grants of power are to be taken as new and independent grants, and expressing in themselves both their extent and limitations. Such was the view taken by the court below; and such we believe is the true view to be taken of the statute.” 135 U. S. 243, 244.

Under this view of the object and purposes of the act of 1878, we think the court below was correct in holding that that act superseded and repealed by implication $ 354 of the Revised Statutes relating to the District of Columbia. It is true there are no express words of repeal in the act of 1878 applied to said 8 354. But the whole tenor of the act shows that it was intended to supersede previous laws relating to the same subject matter, and to provide a system of government for the District complete in itself, in all respects. The language of the sixth section of the act of 1878, that the commissioners “shall have authority to employ such officers and agents, and to adopt such provisions as may be necessary to carry into execution the powers and duties devolved upon them by this act,” clearly implies, we think, that, in the

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »