Humphrey’s Executor v. United States

Facts

President FDR wanted to dismiss a member of the Federal Trade Commission – a “quasi-legislative” agency, namely for his lack of support of FDR’s New Deal policies.  FDR requested his resignation multiple times and eventually fired him.  Nonetheless, the employee kept coming to work despite his dismissal because an FTC employment Act specifically stated that the President could not fire a member for any reason other than “inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office.”  The court found sufficient evidence to show that the dismissal was for none other reason that political differences.

Issue

Whether the President’s power to remove employees within the executive branch is absolute, such that he can remove employees within quasi-executive agencies.

Analysis/Holding

No, the FTC Act is valid.  The provisions of the FTC Act and the intent demonstrated with the record suggest that Congress, when creating the FTC, intended for the body to maintain tenure and acquire years of experience to the benefit of the public.  Quasi-agencies exist precisely to maintain either an a-political or politically balanced delivery of services.  Therefore, the President cannot fire employees within these agencies without due cause described in the Act.  The Act is Congress’s inserted check to ensure that the balance of power between Congress and the Executive are maintained.  The President does, however, have absolute power in regards to employees who are exclusively employed under the Executive Branch.

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