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that is worth emphasis is, the exercise of the judicial functions of an officer.
To what extent the decisions of the administration upon contests within its jurisdiction are final is the first question. This depends upon one fundamental distinction in this subject. The decision of the administration may either be preliminary or final. Two steps may be provided for or one. The scheme may be either that the claimant must first apply to the administration for its adjudication, and after this condition precedent may begin over again in the judicial courts if he is still aggrieved; or the arrangement may be that the claimant has only the administration as the tribunal to try his case against the government, the provision being that this decision of the administration shall be without recourse elsewhere. In either case it is to be noted there is adjudication by the administration; only in the first case there is another examination possible afterwards, in the other case there is none. An administration that has power to go so far as to decide the controversies that arise out of its own action is most effective in its action. That process may well be made a preliminary proceeding in all cases. An appeal to a superior from any inferior it is well to provide in first instance; indeed this is part of the normal processes of administration. But to make the decision of the administration final will give a power to the administration that in most cases will be apt to be arbitrary in its exercise. So the result is that exclusive jurisdiction for the administration is the unusual case and the concurrent jurisdiction is the usual case. In one view this is a question of jurisdiction; in another view it is a question of procedure.88
$ 115. Final.
Within the scope of its jurisdiction the adjudication of the administration is final unless there is provision to the contrary. An explicit opinion to this extent is in Litchfield v. Register & Receiver, 9 Wall. 575 (1869). This was a bill filed against the local officers of a United States land office, asking an injunction to restrain them from acting upon the application of another for land claimed by him. The superior court at the final stage dismissed the bill. The ground taken by the defendant thus prevailed that the department was final within the scope of its authority.
Mr. Justice VILLER delivered a comprehensive opinion: The principle has been so repeatedly decided in this court that the judiciary cannot interfere, either by mandamus or injunction, with executive officers, such as the respondents here, in the discharge of their official duties, unless those duties are of a character purely ministerial and involving no exercise of judgment and discretion, that it would seem to be useless to repeat it here. The lands in question are situated within the land district over which these officers have authority to receive proof of pre-emption, and grant certificate of entry. The very first duty which the register is called on to perform, when application is made to him to enter a tract of land, is to ascertain whether it is subject to entry. Has there been a proclamation offering it for sale; has it been reserved by any action of Congress, or of the proper department; has it been granted by any Act of Congress; or has it been sold? These are all questions for him to decide and they require the exercise of judgment and discretion. He says that the court below erred because it did not require them to come in and answer to his claim of title, to put the court in possession of their views, to defend their instructions from the Commissioner, and to convert the contest before the land department into one before the court. This is precisely what this court has decided that no court can do.
** ExcLUSIVE.-Gaines v. Thompson, 7 Wall. 352; Secretary v. McGarrahan, 9 Wall. 314; Shepley v. Cowan, 91 U. S. 340; Moore v. Robbins, 96 U. S. 536; Davidson v. New Orleans, 96 U. S. 97; Fong Yue Ting v. United States, 149 U. S. 715; Porter V. Haight, 45 Cal. 631; Parmalee v. Baldwin, 1 Conn. 317; State v. Trustees, 20 Fla. 405; People v. Bartels, 138 Ill. 322; Walker v. Hallock, 32 Ind. 239; Donahoe v. Richards, 38 Me. 379; Dillingham v. Snow, 5 Mass. 547; Meade v. Haines, 81 Mich. 261; State v. Medical Examiners, 34 Minn, 387; Stuart v. Palmer, 74 N. Y. 194; American Pavement Co. v. Wagner, 139 Pa. St. 623; Davis v. Strong, 31 Vt. 332; Henderson v. Smith, 26 W. Va. 829.
It is perhaps necessary to reinforce these principles. Indeed the extent of the power of the administration in the adjudication of questions that arise in the course of the application of the law is not often apprehended. The truth of the matter is that the power of the administration in its adjudication is often final; that is, without appeal to any other tribunal. Whenever a matter is entrusted to the adjudication of the administration, the decision of that department is final unless other provision is made. The rule that the power of the administration is final within the scope of its authority goes to this extent. An encyclopaedic case upon these issues is Foster v.
United States, 32 Ct. of Cl. 170 (1897). The facts were peculiar. Claimant alleges that he entered a quarter-section of land, which grant was later, by a combination of circumstances, avoided because certain conditions precedent had not happened. The foundation of the suit was that the United States ought to make reparation for the failure of the entry to take effect. There was a statutory process provided which more or less covered the case. The question was whether the claimant could get at the judicial courts. The court dismissed the complaint.
MOTT summarized the law : (1) Where Congress create a class of claims, such as customs cases, or national revenue cases, or pension cases, and provides a jurisdiction for their ascertainment, that jurisdiction is exclusive. (2) But where Congress refer claims to accounting officers for payment and they refuse to give effect, the accounting officers are held to have no more than auditing powers. (3) And so where a claimant entered land within the boundaries of a railroad grant and paid the price, a suit cannot be maintained, because Congress annulled the grant in consequence of the railroad's inaction.89
$ 116. Adjudication in controversies.
Hook, 8 Pen. Dec. 367 (1896), is a case that gives an
SFINAL.-Litchfield v. Register & Receiver, 9 Wall. 575; Meade v. United States, 9 Wall. 691; United States v. Johnston, 124 U. S. 236; French v. Fyan, 93 U. S. 173; Marquez v. Frisbie, 101 U. S. 475; Stewart v. McHarry, 159 U. S. 650; Grider v. Tally, 77 Ala. 422; New York, etc., R. Co.'s Appeal, 62 Conn. 535; McCord v. High, 24 Ia. 336; Attorney-General v. Northampton, 143 Mass. 589; Ham v. Toledo R. R., 29 Oh. St. 174; Hicks v. Dorn, 42 N. Y. 47; State v. Verner, 30 S. C. 280; Bledsoe v. International R. Co., 40 Tex. 568: Thurston v. Hudgins, 93 Va. 784; Empev v. Plugert, 64 Wis. 612.
insight into this adjudication. A motion for reconstruction was filed in this case on the following grounds, as stated by the attorney in his motion: The claimant was and is drawing $10 per month. His declaration for increase was first passed and then rejected in the face of the favorable report by a ruling of the Medical Referee that the present rate is commensurate with the degree of his disability. This opinion appears to me to be arbitrary and illegal in that he assumes a discretionary power that the law does not confer upon him. If by the strokes of his pen the Medical Referee can virtually annul and set aside the finding and report of two medical examinations—the actual conclusion of six physicians who are sworn officers of the Governmentthen why are such examinations made? I ask this pot for the purpose of casting any reflections, but solely in the interest of the legal phase of the situation.
The Assistant Secretary, REYNOLDS, did not leave this attorney in any doubt as to the internal law on this subject of administration by adjudication: The question immediately arises, to what end are all these inferior officers, the Surgeons and the Referee, appointed? The Commissioner of Pensions cannot personally interview each applicant or inquire into his alleged disabilities, neither is it to be supposed that one official or any other one man can pass intelligently upon the multitudinous and various questions that arise in the adjudication of pension claims when such questions involve special and technical knowledge in the various sciences. It is necessary that the facts be laid before the Commissioner, and when medical and surgical facts are involved the clear intent of the law is that in justice to the claimant as