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Humphrey's Executor v. United States


President Franklin Roosevelt was so angered by Supreme Court challenges to his authority--and by Humphrey's Executor in particular--that he developed a plan to "pack" the Court with his own appointees as part of his effort to institute New Deal economic reforms.

In 1931, Herbert Hoover nominated William E. Humphrey to succeed him as a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission after Hoover was elected president. Humphrey was duly confirmed by the Senate. He was to serve a term of seven years. However, on 25 July 1933, Hoover's successor as chief executive, Franklin Roosevelt, sent Humphrey a letter requesting his resignation. The letter did not find fault with Humphrey's performance, and it was widely believed that Roosevelt simply wanted to replace the commissioner with someone more in tune with his program of economic reform. When Humphrey refused to resign, Roosevelt exercised the power granted him by Article II of the Constitution and removed him from office.

Humphrey did not acquiesce in this decision but continued to insist that he was still a member of the commission, entitled to perform the duties and to receive the salary of a commissioner. He brought suit in the court of claims, a court created to hear claims against the federal government, seeking back wages. After he died, the executor of his estate carried on his suit, which the court of claims referred to the Supreme Court for adjudication.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940Humphrey's Executor v. United States - Significance, Separation Of Powers Requires That The President's Removal Power Be Limited, Further Readings