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Law School Case Brief

Wiener v. United States - 357 U.S. 349, 78 S. Ct. 1275 (1958)

Rule:

There has not been a removal for cause involving the rectitude of a member of an adjudicatory body, nor even a suspensory removal until the Senate could act upon it by confirming the appointment of a new Commissioner or otherwise dealing with the matter. Judging the matter in all the nakedness in which it is presented, namely, the claim that the President could remove a member of an adjudicatory body like the War Claims Commission merely because he wanted his own appointees on such a Commission, the United States Supreme Court is compelled to conclude that no such power is given to the President  directly by the Constitution, and none is impliedly conferred upon him by statute simply because Congress said nothing about it. The philosophy of Humphrey's Executor, in its explicit language as well as its implications, precludes such a claim.

Facts:

Petitioner Myron Wiener was a member of the War Claims Commission created by Congress "to receive and adjudicate according to law" claims for compensating internees, prisoners of war and religious organizations who suffered personal injury or property damage at the hands of the enemy in connection with World War II. The Commissioners' terms were to expire with the life of the Commission, and there was no provision for removal of a Commissioner. Wiener was removed by President Eisenhower before the expiration of the life of the Commission, on the ground that the Act should be administered "with personnel of my own selection." Wiener sued in the Court of Claims to recover his salary as a Commissioner from the date of his removal to the last day of the Commission's existence. Moreover, Wiener challenged the President’s authority to remove him under the War Claims Act of 1948. The Court of Claims dismissed the petition. Wiener filed a petition for certiorari.

Issue:

Was President Eisenhower authorized to remove a member of the War Claims Commission?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that petitioner was entitled to recover his salary from the US as a member of the War Claims Commission because the President did not have the authority to replace petitioner with a member of his choice. The most reliable factor for drawing an inference regarding the President's power of removal in our case is the nature of the function that Congress vested in the War Claims Commission. The Court held that the character of the function of the Commission was intrinsically judicial. Congress could, of course, have given jurisdiction over these claims to the District Courts or to the Court of Claims. The fact that it chose to establish a Commission to "adjudicate according to law" the classes of claims defined in the statute did not alter the character of the function. The Court reversed the order of the claims court.

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