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Myers v. United States


Myers was the first major case that addressed a president's constitutional right to remove executive officials without the consent of Congress. In its decision, the Supreme Court gave the president broad removal powers.

In 1876, Congress passed a law giving the Senate the authority to approve the president's appointment and removal of postmasters. In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson named Frank Myers a postmaster in Portland, Oregon. Under the terms of the 1876 law, Myers should have served a four-year term as postmaster. But three years later, Wilson dismissed Myers from the job without obtaining the Senate's consent. Myers petitioned the U.S. Court of Claims, saying his dismissal was illegal, and he asked for more than $8,000 in back pay, the money he would have earned his last year as postmaster. The court denied his petition, saying Myers had waited too long to file his suit.

Myers appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, but he died before the case was decided. His wife Lois, as administrator of his estate, took his place as the appellant. The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that Myers was not owed the money. The Court disagreed that Myers had taken too long to file his claim; instead, it ruled on the constitutionality of the 1876 law.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Myers v. United States - Significance, History Of Appointment And Removal Powers, A Former President Defends Presidential Powers, Three Strong Dissents