|Thornley v. United States|
|Argued January 13, 1885|
Decided February 2, 1885
|Full case name||Thornley v. United States|
|Citations||113 U.S. 310 ( more )|
5 S. Ct. 491; 28 L. Ed. 999
|Majority||Miller, joined by unanimous|
Thornley v. United States, 113 U.S. 310 (1885), was a lawsuit brought against the United States to recover the balance due on pay to the appellant who had been an officer of the U.S. Navy.
A lawsuit is a proceeding by a party or parties against another in the civil court of law. The archaic term "suit in law" is found in only a small number of laws still in effect today. The term "lawsuit" is used in reference to a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint. If the plaintiff is successful, judgment is in the plaintiff's favor, and a variety of court orders may be issued to enforce a right, award damages, or impose a temporary or permanent injunction to prevent an act or compel an act. A declaratory judgment may be issued to prevent future legal disputes.
The appellant alleged that on September 1, 1855, he was commissioned a surgeon in the navy; that on June 1, 1861, while he still held the grade or rank of surgeon, he was, by order of the Secretary of the Navy, issued by direction of the President, placed on the retired list, in accordance with the provisions of an Act of Congress approved February 21, 1861, 12 Stat. 150, by reason of incapacity for further service at sea, but that for some years after said retirement, he was assigned to and performed active duty; that by § 3 of the Act of Congress approved July 15, 1870, the sea pay of an officer on the active list of the navy of the grade or rank held by the appellant at the time of his retirement was fixed, for the first five years from date of commission at $2,800 per annum; for the second five years from the date of commission at $3,200 per annum; for the third five years from the date of commission at $3,500 per annum; for the fourth five years from the date of commission at $3,700 per annum, and after twenty years from the date of commission at $4,200 per annum.
In modern medicine, a surgeon is a physician who performs surgical operations. There are also surgeons in podiatry, dentistry, orthodontics and the veterinary fields.
The Secretary of the Navy is a statutory officer and the head of the Department of the Navy, a military department within the Department of Defense of the United States of America.
The petition further alleged that an Act of Congress approved March 3, 1873, 17 Stat. 247, fixed the pay of officers of the navy, who were then or might thereafter be retired on account of incapacity, resulting from sickness or exposure in the line of duty at 75 percent of the sea pay of the grade or rank which they held at the time of their retirement; that the Act of Congress approved April 7, 1882, 22 Stat. 41, entitled "An act for the relief of Medical Director John Thornley, United States navy," the appellant, directed that he be considered as having been retired from active service as a surgeon and placed on the retired list of officers of the navy, June 1, 1861, on account of physical incapacity originating in the line of duty, and that he be paid accordingly.
These sections have been reproduced in the Revised Statutes, and read as follows, respectively:
SEC. 1556. The commissioned officers and warrant officers on the active list of the Navy of the United States, and the petty officers, seamen, ordinary seamen, firemen, coal-heavers, and employees, in the navy, shall be entitled to receive annual pay at the rates hereinafter stated, after their respective designations: the admiral, thirteen thousand dollars; . . . surgeons, paymasters, and chief engineers, who have the same rank with paymasters during the first five years after date of commission, when at sea, two thousand eight hundred dollars; on shore duty, two thousand four hundred dollars; on leave or waiting orders, two thousand dollars; during the second five years after such date, when at sea, three thousand two hundred dollars; on shore duty, two thousand eight hundred dollars; on leave or waiting orders, two thousand four hundred dollars; during the third five years after such date, when at sea, three thousand five hundred dollars; on shore duty, three thousand two hundred dollars; on leave or waiting orders, two thousand six hundred dollars; during the fourth five years after such date, when at sea, three thousand seven hundred dollars; on shore duty, three thousand six hundred dollars; on leave or waiting orders, two thousand eight hundred dollars; after twenty years from such date, when at sea, four thousand two hundred dollars; on shore duty, four thousand dollars; on leave or waiting orders, three thousand dollars.
The United States Navy (USN) is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. It is the largest and most capable navy in the world and it has been estimated that in terms of tonnage of its active battle fleet alone, it is larger than the next 13 navies combined, which includes 11 U.S. allies or partner nations. It has the highest combined battle fleet tonnage and the world's largest aircraft carrier fleet, with eleven in service, and two new carriers under construction. With 336,978 personnel on active duty and 101,583 in the Ready Reserve, the U.S. Navy is the third largest of the U.S. military service branches in terms of personnel. It has 290 deployable combat vessels and more than 3,700 operational aircraft as of June 2019, making it the third-largest air force in the world, after the United States Air Force and the United States Army.
SEC. 1588. The pay of all officers of the navy who have been retired after forty-five years' service after reaching the age of sixteen years, or who have been or may be retired after forty years' service, upon their own application to the President, or on attaining the age of sixty-two years, or on account of incapacity resulting from long and faithful service, from wounds or injuries received in the line of duty, or from sickness or exposure therein, shall, when not on active duty, be equal to seventy-five percent of the sea pay provided by this chapter for the grade or rank which they held, respectively at the time of their retirement. The pay of all other officers on the retired list shall, when not on active duty, be equal to one-half the sea pay provided by this chapter for the grade or rank held by them, respectively at the time of their retirement.
The Act also provided that no officer on the retired list of the navy should be employed on active duty except in time of war.
The contention of the appellant is that upon these enactments he is entitled to what is known as "longevity pay." The contention of the United States is that longevity pay is only given to officers on the active list of the navy, and not to retired officers, to which latter class the appellant belongs.
The statute allowing longevity pay to officers of the army, § 1262, Rev.Stat., declared that there should be allowed and paid to all officers below the rank of brigadier general ten percent of their current yearly pay for every term of five years' service, but it did not restrict the increased pay to officers in active service. The point on which the case turned was the decision of the court, that an officer of the army, though retired, was still in the service, and he was included in the very terms of the statute allowing the increased pay. The statute on which the appellant relies excludes him, by its terms, from its benefits.
The court was not called on to explain why the US Congress should apply one rule to the officers of the army and another to the officers of the navy. It is sufficient to say that it has clearly done so. If the law is unequal and unjust, the remedy is with Congress and not with the courts.
The judgment was affirmed.
The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the foundation of military law in the United States. It was established by the United States Congress in accordance with the authority given by the United States Constitution in Article I, Section 8, which provides that "The Congress shall have Power....To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval forces".
In the United States Navy, officers have various ranks. Equivalency between services is by pay grade. United States Navy commissioned officer ranks have two distinct sets of rank insignia: On dress uniform a series of stripes similar to Commonwealth naval ranks are worn; on service khaki, working uniforms, and special uniform situations, the rank insignia are similar to the equivalent rank in the US Army or US Air Force.
Fleet admiral is a five-star flag officer rank in the United States Navy. Fleet admiral ranks immediately above admiral and is equivalent to General of the Army and General of the Air Force. Although it is a current and authorized rank, no U.S. Navy officer presently holds it, with the last U.S. Navy fleet admiral being Chester W. Nimitz, who died in 1966.
United States military seniority is the method by which the United States Armed Forces determines precedence among commissioned officers, in particular those who hold the same rank. Seniority is used to determine assignments, tactical commands, promotions and general courtesy. To a lesser extent, historical seniority is used to recognize status of honor given to early United States military leaders such as inaugural holders of certain ranks or those officers who served as leadership during major wars and armed conflicts.
The United States Navy Reserve (USNR), known as the United States Naval Reserve from 1915 to 2005, is the Reserve Component (RC) of the United States Navy. Members of the Navy Reserve, called reservists, are enrolled in the Selected Reserve (SELRES), the Individual Ready Reserve (IRR), the Full Time Support (FTS), or the Retired Reserve program.
General of the Army is a five-star general officer and the second highest possible rank in the United States Army. A General of the Army ranks immediately above a general and is equivalent to a Fleet Admiral and a General of the Air Force. There is no established equivalent five-star rank in the other federal uniformed services. Often called a "five-star general", the rank of General of the Army has historically been reserved for wartime use and is not currently active in the U.S. military. The General of the Army insignia consisted of five 3/8th inch stars in a pentagonal pattern, with points touching. The insignia was paired with the gold and enameled United States Coat of Arms on service coat shoulder loops. The silver colored five-star metal insignia alone would be worn for use as a collar insignia of grade and on the garrison cap. Soft shoulder epaulettes with five 7/16th inch stars in silver thread and gold-threaded United States Coat of Arms on green cloth were worn with shirts and sweaters.
Admiral is a four-star commissioned naval flag officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, and the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, with the pay grade of O-10. Admiral ranks above vice admiral and below fleet admiral in the Navy; the Coast Guard and the Public Health Service do not have an established grade above admiral. Admiral is equivalent to the rank of general in the other uniformed services. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps has never had an officer hold the grade of admiral. However, 37 U.S.C. § 201 of the U.S. Code established the grade for the NOAA Corps, in case a position is created that merits the four-star grade.
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, general is a four-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-10. General ranks above lieutenant general and below General of the Army or General of the Air Force; the Marine Corps does not have an established grade above general. General is equivalent to the rank of admiral in the other uniformed services. Since the grades of General of the Army and General of the Air Force are reserved for wartime use only, and since the Marine Corps has no five-star equivalent, the grade of general is currently considered to be the highest appointment an officer can achieve in these three services.
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and the United States Air Force, lieutenant general is a three-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-9. Lieutenant general ranks above major general and below general. Lieutenant general is equivalent to the rank of vice admiral in the other uniformed services.
In the United States Armed Forces, the ranks of warrant officer are rated as officers above senior non-commissioned officers, candidates, cadets, and midshipmen but subordinate to the officer grade of O‑1. This application differs from the Commonwealth of Nations and other militaries, where warrant officers are the most senior of the other ranks, equivalent to the US Armed Forces grades of E‑8 and E‑9.
In the United States Army, United States Marine Corps, and United States Air Force, major general is a two-star general officer rank, with the pay grade of O-8. Major general ranks above brigadier general and below lieutenant general. A major general typically commands division-sized units of 10,000 to 15,000 soldiers. Major general is equivalent to the two-star rank of rear admiral in the United States Navy and United States Coast Guard, and is the highest permanent peacetime rank in the uniformed services. Higher ranks are technically temporary and linked to specific positions, although virtually all officers promoted to those ranks are approved to retire at their highest earned rank.
Active Guard Reserve (AGR) refers to a United States Army and United States Air Force federal military program which places Army National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers and Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve airmen on federal active duty status under Title 10 U.S.C., or full-time National Guard duty under Title 32 U.S.C. 502(f) for a period of 180 consecutive days or greater in order to provide full-time support to National Guard and Reserve organizations for the purpose of leading, organizing, administering, recruiting, instructing, or training the Reserve Components according to Subsection 101(d)(6).
Vice admiral is a three-star commissioned naval officer rank in the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard, the United States Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps, with the pay grade of O-9. Vice admiral ranks above rear admiral and below admiral. Vice admiral is equivalent to the rank of lieutenant general in the other uniformed services.
Brown v. United States, 113 U.S. 568 (1885), was an appeal from the Court of Claims regarding one James Brown, the intestate of the appellant, who was a boatswain in the United States Navy. The petition in this case was filed against the United States by the administratrix of his estate in the Court of Claims to recover a balance of pay which she alleged was due to Brown at his death.
Master's mate is an obsolete rating which was used by the Royal Navy, United States Navy and merchant services in both countries for a senior petty officer who assisted the master. Master's mates evolved into the modern rank of Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, while in the merchant service they evolved into the numbered mates or officers.
The United States Reports are the official record of the Supreme Court of the United States. They include rulings, orders, case tables, in alphabetical order both by the name of the petitioner and by the name of the respondent, and other proceedings. United States Reports, once printed and bound, are the final version of court opinions and cannot be changed. Opinions of the court in each case are prepended with a headnote prepared by the Reporter of Decisions, and any concurring or dissenting opinions are published sequentially. The Court's Publication Office oversees the binding and publication of the volumes of United States Reports, although the actual printing, binding, and publication are performed by private firms under contract with the United States Government Publishing Office.