Page images
PDF
EPUB

arrears. Clearly, payment of awards of the Mixed Claims Commission cannot be made, nor can the authority vested in the President be exercised by him, without administration of the funds and other property in question. Administration necessarily requires funds with which to defray expenses.

The Congress has made no provision, by appropriation or otherwise, for the payment of administrative expenses other than the provisions of law in force at the time Resolution No. 53 was adopted. Since the Congress had previously provided for administrative expenses, it may be presumed that that body knew that funds therefor are necessary. It is inconceivable that the Congress intended administration to be carried on without funds, and to impute such an intention to the Congress would produce an absurd result. In my opinion, such a construction may not be properly placed on the Resolution.

Considering the language of Resolution No. 53 as a whole in the light of the foregoing, it is my opinion that the Resolution does not in anywise restrict the payment of administrative expenses.

The question presented is therefore answered in the negative. Respectfully,

WILLIAM STANLEY,

Acting Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

RELEASE OF AMERICAN LEGION POSTS AND THEIR SURETIES FROM CLAIMS RESULTING FROM LOSS OF PROPERTY LENT PURSUANT TO ACT OF FEBRUARY 10, 1920, AS AMENDED

The Act of May 29, 1934, Public No. 265, Seventy-third Congress, has

the effec of releasing and canceling as to both principal and surety all claims existing prior to passage of that act and resulting from loss of property lent to American Legion Posts pursuant to the act of February 10, 1920, as amended.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,

August 20, 1934. Sir: I have the honor to refer to your letter of July 25, 1934, in which you request the opinion of the Attorney General as to whether the Act of May 29, 1934 (Public, No. 265, 73d Congress; [48 Stat. 815]), has the effect of releasing all claims arising prior to the passage of this act on account of property lent to American Legion Posts pursuant to the act of February 10, 1920 (ch. 64, 41 Stat. 403), as amended by the act of June 5, 1920 (ch. 240, 41 Stat. 976), and subsequently lost, bonds having been given by the posts for the return of such property. In this connection you refer to the various claims against Lloyds Insurance Company of America filed by the Government with the Insurance Department of the State of New York in the liquidation proceedings involving that company.

The Act of February 10, 1920, as amended by the Act of June 5, 1920, under the authority of which the property here involved was lent to American Legion Posts is as follows:

6. That the Act entitled 'An Act authorizing the Secretary of War to loan Army rifles to posts of the American Legion, approved February 10, 1920, be, and the same is hereby, amended to read as follows:

“6 That the Secretary of War is hereby authorized, under rules, limitations, and regulations to be prescribed by him, to loan obsolete or condemned Army rifles, slings, and cartridge belts to posts or camps of organizations composed of honorably discharged soldiers, sailors, or marines, for use by them in connection with the funeral ceremonies of deceased soldiers, sailors, and marines, and for other post ceremonial purposes;

Provided, however, That not to exceed ten such rifles shall be issued to any one post or

camp.'»

Under the authority of and pursuant to the above-quoted statute, the War Department issued a regulation providing for the issue of the property in question upon execution of proper bond. The regulation is as follows:

“Issue of the above property will be directed by the proper department or corps area ordnance officer, United States Army, to the individual, post or camp upon the filing of a bond by such organization, approved by the State commander or other proper authority, in the penal sum of the value of the property, and providing that said organization guarantees to take proper care of and safely keep and account for the arms and accessories issued to it, and shall, when required by the Secretary of War, duly cause the return of said property in good order within 30 days to such arsenal or depot as the Secretary of War may designate to receive them.”

The Act of May 29, 1934, provides:

“ That the Secretary of War is authorized and directed to give to each post of the American Legion to which obsolete or condemned Army rifles, slings, or cartridge belts have been loaned under authority of the Act entitled 'An Act authorizing the Secretary of War to loan Army rifles to posts of the American Legion ’, approved February 10, 1920, as amended, any such equipment now held by such post, and to cancel and release all obligations to the United States incurred pursuant to such Act in connection with loans of such equipment to posts of the American Legion ” [48 Stat. 815].

The language of this statute is clear and unambiguous. It directs the Secretary of War “to give” to American Legion Posts the property held by them and “ to cancel and release all obligations to the United States” incurred by such posts in connection with loans of such property.

When property so held is given to a post by the Secretary of War as directed by the statute, no further action is required to satisfy the obligation of the post to return the property. Hence, unless the language of the statute “to cancel and release all obligations to the United States incurred pursuant to such Act in connection with loans of such equipment to posts of the American Legion ” includes obligations arising by reason of failure or inability to return property because of loss thereof, it is superfluous. This language is broad enough to include such obligations, and applying the rule that each and every word of a statute is to be given effect if possible, it is my opinion that this statute has the effect of releasing and cancelling all claims existing prior to the passage of the act that have resulted from loss of property covered by a bond of an American Legion Post.

In view of the rule that the release of the principal operates to release the surety (Cage v. Cassidy, 23 How. 109; National Surety Co. v. George E. Breece Lumber Co., 60 F. (2d) 847, 851), and since there is nothing in the statute to indicate that the Congress intended any different rule to apply in this case, it is my further opinion that the statute has the effect of cancelling and releasing all claims against surety companies such as those filed by the Government in the liquidation proceedings involving Lloyds Insurance Company of America. Respectfully,

J. CRAWFORD BIGGS,

Acting Attorney General. To the SECRETARY OF WAR.

AVAILABILITY OF CERTAIN FUNDS FOR THE PP.OMOTION

OF HEALTH SERVICE IN RURAL AREAS

A proposed executive order allocates to the Secretary of the Treasury

from the appropriation of $899,675,000 contained in the Emergency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1935, $1,000,000 for use in enabling the Public Health Service to cooperate with and assist local state health officers in the establishment and promotion of adequate

health service in rural areas. Held, the proposed allocation is authorized under the said Emer

gency Appropriation Act for carrying out the purposes of the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933.

DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE,

August 22, 1934. SIR: I am herewith transmitting through the Secretary of State, as required by Executive Order No. 6247 of August 10, 1933, a revised draft of a proposed Executive Order submitted by the Acting Director of the Bureau of the Budget under date of August 17, 1934, allocating to the Secretary of the Treasury from the appropriation of $899,675,000 contained in the Emergency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1935 (Public No. 412, 73d Congress [48 Stat. 1055]), approved June 19, 1934, the sum of $1,000,000 for use in enabling the Public Health Service to cooperate with and assist local state health authorities in the several states in the establishment, development, and maintenance of adequate health service in rural areas.

* *

ing: *

The Treasury Department first suggested that the allocation is authorized as a public works project under section 202(c) of Title II of the National Industrial Recovery Act (ch. 90, 48 Stat. 195, 201), which is as follows:

“The Administrator, under the direction of the President, shall prepare a comprehensive program of public works, which shall include among other things the follow

(c) any projects of the character heretofore constructed or carried on either directly by public authority or with public aid to serve the interests of the general public.”

Upon the informal suggestion of this Department that considerable doubt existed as to whether the proposed allocation is authorized under section 202(c), the Treasury Department expressed the view that the allocation might be authorized from the same appropriation as a relief measure for carrying out the purposes of the Federal Emergency Relief Act of 1933 (ch. 30, 48 Stat. 55).

The general purpose of that Act is broadly indicated in the first section thereof which is as follows:

“That the Congress hereby declares that the present economic depression has created a serious emergency, due to widespread unemployment and increasing inadequacy of State and local relief funds, resulting in the existing or threatened deprivation of a considerable number of families and individuals of the necessities of life, and making it imperative that the Federal Government cooperate more effectively with the several States and Territories and the District of Columbia in furnishing relief to their needy and distressed people.” [Italics mine.]

Section 4(b) of the Act authorizes the Federal Emergency Relief Administrator to make grants to the several states for the purposes set out in section 4(a) which are:

to aid in meeting the costs of furnishing relief and work relief and in relieving the hardship and suffering caused by unemployment in the form of money, service, materials, and/or commodities to provide the necessities of life to persons in need as a result of the present emergency, and/or to their dependents, whether resident, transient, or homeless.”

66 *

« PreviousContinue »