5 U.S. 137
PROCEDURAL HISTORY: At a prior term, the Court granted an applicant a rule directing the Secretary of State of the United States to show cause why a mandamus should not issue commanding him to deliver to the applicant his commission as a justice of the peace. No cause was shown, so the applicant moved for a mandamus.
-The applicant and two others contended that the late President of the United States had nominated them to the Senate and that the Senate had advised and consented to their appointments as justices of the peace.
-The commissions were signed by the late President and the seal of the United States was affixed to the commissions by the Secretary of State.
-The commissions were withheld from the applicants and they requested their delivery.
-The Court granted a rule to show cause, requiring the Secretary to show cause why a mandamus should not issue to direct him to deliver to the commissions.
-No cause was shown and the applicant filed a motion for a mandamus.
-The Court determined that the applicant had a vested legal right in his appointment because his commission had been signed by the President, sealed by the Secretary of State, and the appointment was not revocable. -The Court found that because the applicant had a legal title to the office, the laws afforded him a remedy.
-However, the Court held that § 13 of the Act of 1789, giving the Court authority to issue writs of mandamus to an officer, was contrary to the Constitution as an act of original jurisdiction, and therefore void.
OUTCOME: The rule was discharged.
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