Respondents, three employees of the federal government, were, among other federal officeholders, accused by Congressman Martin Dies of having engaged in subversive activities and were investigated by a special subcommittee of the House of Representatives on that charge. Upon a report of this committee that the respondents were guilty of such activities, the House attached a rider, in section 304, to the Urgent Deficiencies Appropriation Act, 1943, which prohibited, after November 15, 1943, the application of any appropriation to the payment of respondents' compensation, except as jurors or members of the armed forces, unless prior to November 15 they should have been reappointed by the President with the approval of the Senate. After the enactment became law, though they had not been reappointed, respondents continued to work for varying periods after November 15 without pay. They then initiated these actions for their salaries in the Court of Claims. Recovery was there allowed, some of the judges believing that Congress had not forbidden the employment of respondents but merely their payment out of general appropriations, while others held variously that section 304 was unconstitutional as an assumption of executive power in the removal of federal employees, as a bill of attainder, or as a denial of due process of law. On appeal by the United States, held: section 304 is a bill of attainder within the prohibition of Article I, Section 9, Clause 3 of the Federal Constitution. In a concurring opinion, Justice Frankfurter, joined by Justice Reed, sought to avoid the constitutional issue by reading section 304 literally to provide for the withholding of respondents' salaries but not for their discharge. United States v. Lovett, (U.S.1946) 66 S.Ct. 1073.
John A. Huston S.Ed.,
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW-REMOVAL OF EXECUTIVE EMPLOYEES BY ACT OF CONGRESS-BILL OF ATTAINDER,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol45/iss1/8