Humphrey's Executor v. United States

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Plaintiff

Humphrey

Defendant

United States

Facts

President Hoover nominated the plaintiff as member of the FTC. He was commissioned for a term of 7 years. In the middle of that term President Roosevelt asked that plaintiff resign. Plaintiff did not resign. FDR then sent him a letter saying that he was removed. Plaintiff claimed that the dismissal was not constitutional and is suing for his salary.

Issues

  1. Does section 1 of the FTC Act limits when the President can remove the president?
  2. Is this limit unconstitutional?

Discussion

  1. The Act only allows removal for cause. The legislative history reinforces that there should be no removal except for one of the enumerated reasons. The Congress intended to create a commission that was independent from the executive and therefore "the intent of the act is to limit the executive power of remval to the causes enumerated.
  2. The court rules that the power of the FTC is not executive. Rather it is quasi judicial and quasi legislative. For this reason, Congress can exercise control. The court lays out the following doctrine: "Whether the power of the President to remove an officer shall prevail over the authority of Congress to condition the power by fixing a definite term and precluding a removal except for cause, will defend on the character of the office."