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ing a beneficial interest in sustaining or defeating a bill, no court should interfere by mandamus to correct the record of a legislative body.11 The Governor of a State cannot be compelled by mandamus to return a fugitive from labor or justice.12
The writ of mandamus issues to compel a party to do that which it is his duty to do without it. It confers no new authority, and the party to be coerced must have the power to perform the act.13 There are cases in which the writ of mandamus will not be issued to compel the performance of even a purely ministerial act. “In a case, for instance, where the intention of the officer, though acting within the scope of his duty, had been frustrated by a clerical mistake.” 14
§ 458. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia to issue a writ of mandamus to an officer of the United States. The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia has the power to issue the writ of mandamus, to an officer of the United States or other person within its territorial jurisdiction in cases in which the relator is by common law entitled to seek relief. The writ will not issue in a case where its effect would be to direct or control the head of an executive department in the exercise of judgment or discretion, even when in the exercise of his discretion the officer has been called upon to interpret several statutes of doubtful meaning and he has made an erroneous interpretation of these ; 2 but when the officer refuses to act
11 Clough v. Curtis, 134 U. S. 361, . Kendall v. Stokes, 3 How. 87, 11 L. 33 L. ed. 945..
ed. 506; Com 'r of Patents v. White12 Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. ley, 4 Wall. 522, 18 L. ed. 335; 66, 16 L. ed. 717.
U. S. ex rel. Miller v. Black, 128 U. 13 U. S. ex rel. Boynton v. Blaine, S. 40, 50, 32 L. ed. 354, 358; U. S. 139 U. S. 306, 319, 35 L. ed. 183, ex rel. Redfield v. Windom, 137 U. 187; Brownsville v. Loague, 129 U. S. 636, 34 L. ed. 811; U. S. ex rel. S. 493, 501, 32 L. ed. 780, 783. Boynton v. Blaine, 139 U. S. 306,
14 U. S. ex rel. Redfield v. Win 35 L. ed. 183; Roberts v. U. 8., 176 dom, 137 U. S. 636, 644, 34 L. ed. U. S. 221, 44 L. ed. 443; U. S. ex 811, 814, per Lamar, J., citing U. rel. Riverside Oil Co. v. Hitchcock, S. v. Schurz, 102 U. S. 378, 26 L. 190 U, S. 316, 47 L. ed. 1074. ed. 167.
2 Congress on March 3, 1837, $ 458. 19 St. at L. 253; U. S. v. passed an act giving a pension to Schurz, 102 U. S. 378, 394, 26 L. the widow of any officer who had ed. 167, 171; Kendall v. U. S., 12 died in the naval service. On the Pet. 524, 9 L. ed. 1181; Decatur v. same day Congress passed a resolu. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 10 L. ed. 559; tion granting a pension to the widow
of Stephen Decatur for a certain period of time. Mrs. Decatur applied for and received her pension under the general law, with a reservation of her rights under the resolution, claiming the special pension granted by that as well. The Secretary of the Navy, acting under the opinion of the Attorney General, decided that she could not have both. Upon her application for a mandamus to compel the Secretary to grant her a special pension, the writ was denied. Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 515, 516, 10 L. ed. 559, 568, 569, per Taney, C. J. An application for a mandamus against the Secretary of the Navy, by a comman der in the navy of the Republic of Texas, for pay alleged to be due him from the United States since the annexation of Texas under the joint resolutions for annexation of
Texas, was denied. Brashear v. Mason, 6 How. 92, 12 L. ed. 357. So was an application for the writ to compel the Secretary of the Navy to accept the highest bid for a condemned vessel. U. S. ex rel, Gold berg v. Daniels, 231 U. S. 218.
An application for a mandamus to the Secretary of the Treasury to compel the payment of a salary to a Territorial judge for the unexpired term of his office, from which he claimed that he had been improperly removed by the President, was denied. U. S. ex rel. Goodrich v. Guthrie, 17 How. 284, 303, 305, 15 L. ed. 102, 105, 106.
The writ of mandamus to the Secretary of the Treasury is not a legal remedy to try the title of the relator to an office claimed by him. U. S. ex rel. Goodrich v.
Guthrie, 17 How. 284, 305, 15 L. ed. 102, 106. But upon a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the Territory of New Mexico it was held that in case of a disputed election to a municipal offiee, mandamus may issue to compel the recognition by another municipal officer of the de facto officer, whose title is disputed, until the rights of the parties can be determined on quo warranto. Re Delgado, 140 U. S. 586, 590, 35 L. ed. 578, 580. Mitchell furnished material and performed labor for the United States under a contract; and when the work was done and the materials furnished he presented his account to the proper office for adjustment and settlement. The balance was found to be correct so far as the labor and material were concerned, but it was also found that through penalties and forfeitures that balance was liable to be materially reduced. It also appeared that Mitchell was indebted to contractors and others in a large amount for work done and materials furnished under the contract. The Treasury officials agreed with Mitchell that this account should be adjusted, if he would consent that his said indebtedness should be paid out of the sums allowed, and that the control of the money should not be given up until those claims were satisfied. He assented, and a draft was prepared accordingly. Mitchell failed to satisfy the claims, and the assignee of his claim to the draft applied for a mandamus to compel the Secretary of the Treasury to deliver the draft to him before he had made the agreed pay.
ments; but the application was de- was required, an application for a
nied. U. S. ex rel. Redfield v. Win- writ of mandamus will be refused. . dom, 137 U. S. 636, 34 L. ed. 811. U. S. v. Commissioner, 5 Wall. 563,
The writ was denied when prayed 565, 18 L. ed. 692, 693; U. S. ex to compel the Secretary of the rel. Riverside Oil Co. v. Hitchcock, Treasury to collect a different rate 190 U. S. 316; U. S. ex rel. Alaska of duty upon a certain import from Smokeless Coal Co. v. Lane, 250 that which he had determined to U. S. 549. There the writ was be lawful. Louisiana v. McAdoo, sought to require the Secretary of 234 U. S. 627.
the Interior and the Commissioner An application for a mandamus to of the General Land Office to issue com pel the Commissioner of Patents a patent which had been denied to refer an application for a re- because the Secretary had decided issue, which he had decided did not that work done was for prospecting come within the statute, to "the purposes and not for the purpose proper, examiner, or otherwise ex- of opening a mine. amine or cause the same to be ex- The writ will not issue to review amined according to law,” was de- the decision of the Secretary of nied. Com'r of Patents v. Whiteley, the Interior as to the practice to 4 Wall. 522, 18 L. ed. 335. The be pursued in making applications writ was denied when asked to com- for land patents. U. S. ex rel. pel the Commissioner of Patents Ness v. Fisher, 223 U. S. 683, to declare an interference at the 56 L. ed. 610. Nor to require request of the junior applicant for the Secretary of the Interior to a patent. Ewing v. U. S., 244 U. S. approve the selection of land al
lotted to such tribe, by one who Neither an injunction will issue claimed to be an adopted member to prevent, nor a mandamus issue of the same, in a case where the Secto compel, the cancellation of an retary, was of the opinion that the entry in the 'Land Office under applicant had not been duly which a claim is made to lands. adopted. U. S. ex rel. West v. Gaines v. Thompson, 7 Wall. 347, Hitchcock, 205 U. 8. 80, 51 L. ed. 19 L. ed. 62. See also Sioux City 718. Nor to review his decision re& St. P. R. Co. v. U. S., 36 Fed. opening because of newly discov610, 612.
ered evidence or fraud a previous Where the Commissioner of the administrative order concerning the Land Office or the Secretary of succession to an Indian allotment the Interior has decided that a pat- while the property was still under ent should not issue, in a caseliis administrative control. Lane where numerous questions of law . U. S., 241 U. S. 201. and fact arose, some of them de- Where the Secretary of the Inpending upon circumstances which terior had granted a land patent in rested upon parol proof, and where pursuance of an act of Congress, it the exercise of judicial functions, was held that the courts could not some of them of a high character review his proceedings by manda
at all in a case where he is bound to act,or when by special statute or otherwise a purely ministerial duty, which he is bound to perform without question, is imposed upon a public officer, even the head of an Executive Department, a mandamus may be issued to compel him to do such duty, if there is no other adequate remedy.4 A mandamus may issue to compel the Treas
mus upon the application of a claim ton v. Blaine, 139 U. S. 306, 319, ant to the land who contended that 35 L. ed. 183, 187; U. S. v. Lamar, the statute was unconstitutional. 116 U. S. 423, 29 L. ed. 677; infra, lie Emblen, 161 U. S. 52, 40 L. ed. note 4. 613. Where the Commissioner of 4 Stockton & Stokes, mail conPensions had decided upon an ap tractors, had certain claims against plication for an increase of a pen the government for extra services, sion, that the applicant was not which they insisted should be entitled to the same, and this deci granted in their accounts, and a sion was confirmed by the Secretary controversy arose as to this between of the Interior, as evidenced by his them and the Post-office Departsignature of the certificate givenm ent. Congress passed an act for to the pensioner, it was held that their relief; by which the Solicitor no mandamus would issue to come of the Treasury was authorized and pel an increase of the pension. directed to settle and adjust their U. S. ex rel. Dunlap v. Black, 128 claims, and make them such allow. U. S. 40, 48, 32 L. ed. 354, 357. ances as upon full examination of An application for a mandamus all the evidence might seem to be to compel the Secretary of State equitable and right; and the Postto pay a certain award under the master-General was directed to Mexican Claims Commission, under credit them with whatever sums the the act of June 18, 1878, was de Solicitor should decide to be due nied. U. S. ex rel. Boynton V. them. The Solicitor, after investiBlaine, 139 U. S. 306, 35 L. ed. 183. gation, made his report, and stated See also U. S. ex rel. Angarica v. the sums due to Stockton & Stokes Bayard, 127 U. S. 251, 259, 32 L. on the claims made by them, but ed. 159, 162; Frelinghuysen v. Key, the Postmaster-General refused to 110 U. S. 63, 28 L. ed. 71. See give them credit as directed by the also U. 8. ex rel. International law. This, the court held he could Contracting Co. v. Lamont, 155 U. be compelled to do by a mandamus, S. 303, 39 L. ed. 160; U. S. ex rel. because it was simply a ministerial Mutual Messenger Co. v. Wright, 15 duty to be performed, and not an App. D. C. 463.
official act requiring any exercise of 3U. S. ex rel. Dunlap v. Black, judgment or discretion. Kendall v. 128 U. S. 40, 48, 32 L. ed. 354, 357; U. S. ex rel. Stokes, 12 Pet. 524, U. S. v. Schurz, 102 U. S. 378, 26 613, 614, 9 L, ed. 1181, 1216, 1217. L. ed. 167; U. S. ex rel. Redfield McBride claimed a patent for v. Windom, 137 U. S. 636, 644, 34 land under a right of pre-emption. L. ed. 811, 814; U. S. ex rel. Boyn- The regular proceedings had taken
place in the Department of the Interior; the right of the applicant had been affirmed; the patent had been made out in the Land Office, signed by the President, sealed with the Land Office seal, counter-signed by the Recorder of the Land Office, recorded in the proper book, and transmitted to the local land officers for delivery; but delivery had been refused, because instructions had been received from the Commissioner to return the patent. Upon an application for a mandamus, the defense was that it had been discovered that the land belonged to a town site. The court held that this defense was insufficient; that the title had passed to the appli. cant; that he was entitled to the patent subject to any equity which other parties might have to the land, or subject to a proceeding to set the patent aside; and that the duty of the Commissioner and of the Secretary of the Interior had become a mere ministerial duty to deliver the instrument. A mandamus was granted accordingly. U. S. v. Schurz, 102 U. S. 407, 26 L. ed. 175. · Upon an application for a patent in the case of interference, the Com. missioner of patents had decided in favor of Gill, and adjudged that a patent should issue to his assigns accordingly. An appeal was taken to the Secretary of the Interior, and he reversed the decision of the Commissioner. The latter for that reason refused to issue a patent. Upon an application for a mandamus, the Supreme Court held that no appeal lay from the decision of the Commissioner to the Secretary
of the Interior; that "the latter of.. ficer had no jurisdiction in the matter;” that the patent ought to be issued to Gill's assigns in accordance with the decision of the Commissioner. A mandamus to compel the issue of such a patept, was granted accordingly. Butterworth v. Hoe, 112 U. S. 50, 28 L. ed. 656. The Commissioner of Pensions had refused to grant an application for an increase of a pension. The applicant appealed to the Secretary of the Interior, who overruled the decision of the Commissioner, and held that the applicant was entitled to an increase of his pension. The Commissioner refused to carry out the Secretary's decision and to grant the increase requested. It was held that the Commissioner could be compelled by a mandamus to grant the increase of the pension for which the application had been made, in accordance with the deci. sion of the Secretary of the Interior. U: S. ex rel. Dunlap v. Black, 128 U. S. 40, 50, 52, 32 L. ed. 354, 358, 359, per Bradley, J. See also U. S. ex rel. Hufty v. Trimble, 14 App. D. C. 414. The writ of mandamus was granted to compel the Secretary of the Interior to erase the marks and notations, made by his predecessor, striking the name of the relator from the enrollment of an Indian nation. Garfield v. U. S. ex rel. Goldsby, 211 U. S. 249, 53 L. ed. 168. The writ has been issued to compel the Secretary of the Interior to cause a patent to be issued upon a homestead entry, when no contest or protest proceeding had been initiated and no de. partmental order made for the pur.