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Opinion of the Court.

ever in which the United States are concerned, either as debtors or as creditors, shall be settled and adjusted in the Department of the Treasury.”

By the act establishing the offices of Comptroller and Auditor, the former was authorized and required “to superintend the adjustment and preservation of the public accounts,” and “to examine all accounts settled by the Auditor;” and it was made the duty of the latter “to receive all public accounts, and after examination to certify the balance, and transmit the accounts with the vouchers and certificate to the Comptroller for his decision thereon." 1 Stat. 66.

Considering the accepted definition of an auditor with the language used in these provisions, the Fourth Auditor may be correctly said to be authorized to examine accounts accruing in the Navy Department, compare the items with the vouchers, allow or reject charges, and state the balance; and the Comptroller has authority to revise the action of the Auditor and certify the balances finally found by him.

It is stated in the opinion delivered by Mr. Chief Justice Waite in United States v. Graham, 110 U. S. 219, 220, cited on behalf of relator, that it was found as a fact in that case " that on the 6th of April, 1835, which was only a little more than a month after the act of 1835 passed, circular instructions were issued from the Treasury Department to the effect that mileage at the rate of ten cents a mile was fixed by law and should be paid for travelling expenses within the United States, but that the usual and necessary passage money actually paid by officers returning from foreign service, under orders or on sick ticket, when they could not return in a public vessel, would be paid as theretofore, as well as the like expenses of officers going out. The navy regulations adopted in 1865, and in force in 1872, when the claim of Graham, the appellee, accrued, provided that for travelling out of the United States the actual expenses only are allowed.' It is also found that from the time of the passage of the act of 1835 until the decision of Temple's case in this court, the Navy and Treasury Departments had, with a single exception, always held that the ten cents a mile did not apply to travel

Opinion of the Court.

to, from, or in foreign countries, but only to travel in the United States. In Temple's case the long continued practice in the Departments was relied on to justify the decision of the accounting officers of the Treasury against him, but. the fact of the actual existence of the practice was not found as it has been now."

The decision in United States v. Temple, 105 U. S. 97, was announced at October term, 1881. That case brought under consideration the act of Congress of June 30, 1876, relating to the mileage of officers of the Navy, while Graham's case arose under the act of March 3, 1835, and it was held that, as the language of the statute in each instance was clear and precise and its meaning evident, there was no room for construction, and that eight cents a mile in the one case and ten cents in the other, was properly allowed the claimants by the Court of Claims, from whose judgments in their favor appeals were prosecuted to this court.

It is now argued that the duty of the Fourth Auditor and of the Second Comptroller, under the last clause of section 2 of the act of 1835 and the decision of this court in relation to it, was merely ministerial, and that by the disallowance of relator's claim for mileage these officers exercised a discretion which they did not possess; that this was an invalid exercise of an authority under the United States; and that hence the validity of the authority was drawn in question. In order to justify this position, however, the validity of the authority must have been drawn in question directly and not incidentally. The validity of a statute is not drawn in question every time rights claimed under such statute are controverted, nor is the validity of an authority, every time an act done by such authority is disputed. The validity of a statute or the validity of an authority is drawn in question when the existence, or constitutionality, or legality of such statute or authority is denied, and the denial forms the subject of direct inquiry.

We think that the authority of the Second Comptroller and the Fourth Auditor is not thus denied here, nor the validity of that authority questioned, but that what is claimed is that in the exercise of a valid authority, the Auditor and Comptroller

Opinion of the Court.

erred in respect to an allowance, in view of the decision of this court in another case.

In Decatur v. Paulding, 14 Pet. 497, 515, it was remarked by Mr. Chief Justice Taney that the duties to be performed by the head of an executive department of the government, whether imposed by act of Congress or by resolution, are not, in general, mere ministerial duties; that departmental duties are executive in their nature; that the laws and resolutions of Congress under which the departments are required to act have to be expounded in the exercise of judgment; and that, while the court would not be bound to adopt the construction given, when departmental decisions are under review in a proper case, the court would not by mandamus control the exposition of statutes by direct action upon executive officers. In relation to the interpretation of a pension law by the Commissioner of Pensions and the Secretary of the Interior, in United States ex rel. Dunlap v. Black, Commissioner, 128 U.S. 40, 48, Mr. Justice Bradley said: “Whether, if the law were properly before us for consideration, we should be of the same opinion, or of a different opinion, is of no consequence in the decision of this case.'

The contention of the relator is, that the interpretation he puts upon the act is too obviously correct to admit of dispute, and that this court has so decided; but it does not follow, because the decision of the Comptroller and Auditor may have been erroneous, that the assertion of relator to that effect raises a cognizable controversy as to their authority to proceed at all. What the relator sought was an order coercing these officers to proceed in a particular way, and this order the Supreme Court of the District declined to grant. If we were to reverse that judgment upon the ground urged, it would not be for want of power in the Auditor to audit the account, and in the Comptroller to revise and pass upon it, but because those officers had disallowed what they ought to have allowed and erroneously construed what needed no construction. This would not in any degree involve the validity of their authority. Snow v. United States, 118 U. S. 346, 353; Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Co. v. Hopkins, 130 U. S. 210. In


Clayton v. Utah Territory, 132 U. S. 632, the power vested in the governor of the Territory of Utah by the organic act, to appoint an auditor of public accounts, was drawn in question; and in Clough v. Curtis, 134 U. S. 361, 369, the lawful existence, as the legislative assembly of the Territory of Idaho, of a body of persons claiming to exercise as such the legislative power conferred by Congress, was controverted. In Neilson v. Lagow, 7 How. 772, 775, and 12 How. 98, the plaintiff in error claimed the land in dispute through an authority exercised by the Secretary of the Treasury, and the State court decided against its validity. The existence or validity of the authority was primarily involved in these cases, and they contain nothing to the contrary of our present conclusion.

Why the relator did not bring suit in the Court of Claims does not appear, nor does the record show the reasons of the Second Comptroller for rejecting this claim in 1887, nor for the action of the present Auditor and Comptroller other than as indicated in the demurrer. These matters are, however, immaterial in the view which we take of the case. The writ of error must be dismissed and it is

So ordered.




No. 72. Argued November 13, 14, 1890. - Decided December 8, 1890.

Domicil generally determines the particular territorial jurisprudence to

which the individual is subjected. Although a judgment in one State against a citizen of another State, may

be held valid under local laws hy the courts of the former, the courts of the latter are not bound to sustain it, if it would be invalid but for the

special laws of the State where rendered. B., a citizen of Maryland, having executed a bond, containing a warrant

authorizing any attorney of any court of record in the State of New York or any other State, to confess judgment for the penalty, and judgment having been entered against him in Pennsylvania by a prothonotary

Statement of the Case.

without service of process, or appearance in person or by attorney, under a local law permitting that to be done, Held; (1) That in a suit upon this judgment in Maryland, the courts of Mary

land were not bound to hold the judgment as obligatory either on the ground of comity or of duty, contrary to the laws and policy

of their own State. (2) B. could not properly be presumptively held to knowledge and accep

tance of particular laws of Pennsylvania or of all the States other than his own, allowing that to be done which was not authorized by the terms of the instrument he had executed.

This was an action brought in the Circuit Court of Cecil County, Maryland, by the Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company against James Benge and John Benge, who were then citizens of Delaware, by summons and attachment on warrant, which was served on William P. Radcliffe as garnishee. Radcliffe filed pleas on behalf of the Benges according to the Maryland practice, putting the validity of the judgment in issue.

The declaration was in these words:

“ This suit is instituted to recover the sum of twenty-three hundred dollars from the defendants, due and owing from the defendants to the plaintiff on and by virtue of a certain judgment which the plaintiff, on the third day of January, in the year eighteen hundred and seventy-four, in the Court of Common Pleas in and for the county of Chester, in the State of Pennsylvania, one of the United States of America, by the judgment of the said court, recovered against the defendants, for the sum of three thousand dollars; which said judgment is still in force and unsatisfied."

Upon the trial, a record from the Court of Common Pleas in and for the county of Chester, in the State of Pennsylvania, was read in evidence as follows:

“I do hereby enter judgment against the defendants and in favor of the plaintiff in this cause for the sum of three thousand dollars, lawful money, debt, besides costs, etc., on a bond and warrant of attorney to confess judgment, dated March sixteenth, A.D. one thousand eight hundred and seventy-two, conditioned that if the above-named James Benge, his heirs,

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