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and Fortification or not, mileage is no longer a necessary. expense against the appropriation Board of Ordnance and Fortification.'
"In view of the foregoing facts and considerations, I am of the opinion that for the fiscal year 1905 the mileage of officers of the Army traveling on duty connected with the Board of Ordnance and Fortification is payable from the appropriation Mileage to officers and contract surgeons, 1905, and not from the appropriation Board of Ordnance and Fortification.""
The mileage law in force at the time the travel in question was made was the act of March 2, 1901 (31 Stat., 901), which, so far as material, provides:
"For mileage to officers and contract surgeons, when authorized by law, five hundred thousand dollars: Provided, That hereafter officers so traveling shall be paid seven cents per mile and no more, distance to be computed and mileage to be paid over the shortest usually traveled routes, with deduction as hereinafter provided **
It is a fundamental rule in the construction of statutes that in the ascertainment of the intent of the legislative body, full expression must be given to the language used. If the language employed is unambiguous, the statute must be interpreted according to the natural import of the words used.
On this point the Supreme Court of the United States, in the case of Dewey (178 U. S., 510), said:
"Our province is to declare what the law is, and not under guise of interpretation or under the influence of what may be surmised to be the policy of the Government so depart from sound rules of construction as in effect to adjudge that to be law which Congress has not enacted as such. Here the language used by Congress is unambiguous. It is so clear that the mind at once recognizes the intent of Congress. Interpreted according to the natural import of the words used, the statute involves no absurdity or contradiction, and there is consequently no room for construction. Our duty is to give effect to the will of Congress, as thus plainly expressed." (United States v. Fisher, 2 Cranch, 358; Lake County v. Rollins, 130 U. S., 662, 670.)
The Court of Claims in the same case (35 Ct. Cl., 197) said:
"It is not a question of what might be called unwritten law, but a question of purely statutory construction, and the intent of the legislature must be deduced from the terms employed in the phraseology and the words of the statute. Courts have no power other than the interpretation of the law as in their
judgment it exists. Questions of policy addressing themselves to the other branches of the Government are not incident to the judiciary. They have no policy and no authority save and except the declaration and application of the law as in their judgment it may seem to exist. Congress has passed the statute and defined its purpose in the express averment of words. Courts are constrained to follow the import of those words in the determination of the rights of parties and of the Government. In doubtful cases arising from ambiguous language courts will inquire into surrounding circumstances, having in view the history of the times and the condition intended to be affected by the law in coming to a conclusion as to its proper construction. But unambiguous words, importing in and of themselves the purpose and will of the legislature, must be permitted to perform their legitimate functions in the development and ascertainment of that will."
The language employed in the act of April 23, 1904 (supra), is broad and comprehensive, the words used are not of doubtful meaning, and under the well-settled rule of construction, as quoted above, the will of Congress, as plainly expressed in the statute, must be carried into effect.
The decision of the Auditor is approved and will apply on all travel on purely army business and all other business of a military character, except in cases, if any there be, where some other appropriation specifically provides that the traveling expenses shall be paid therefrom.
MILEAGE TO AN OFFICER OF THE NAVY FOR ATTENDANCE UPON THE FUNERAL OF AN OFFICER WHO DIED IN THE UNITED STATES.
An officer of the Navy is not entitled to mileage or reimbursement of traveling expenses for travel performed in obedience to an order directing him to attend the funeral of an officer who died in the United States.
(Decision by Acting Comptroller Mitchell, October 28, 1904.)
A. M. D. McCormick, surgeon, U. S. Navy, appealed, October 14, 1904, from the action of the Auditor for the Navy Department in disallowing in settlement, dated October 1, 1904, his claim for mileage for travel between Annapolis, Md., and Washington, D. C., on May 8, 1902, in obedience to an order of that date directing the travel.
The Auditor disallowed the claim for the reason that:
"Section 1587 of the Revised Statutes prohibits the payment of expenses of any officer for travel to attend the funeral of an officer who died in the United States."
The order under which the travel was made is as follows:
"Proceed to Washington, D. C., on Friday, May 9, 1902, for duty in connection with the battalion of cadets, which is to participate in the funeral of the late Rear-Admiral W. T. Sampson, U. S. Navy.
"2. Before proceeding on this duty, report to Commander C. E. Colahan, U. S. Navy, commandant of cadets.
"3. Upon completion of this duty, return to the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and resume your regular duties. Very respectfully,
(Signed) "RICHARD WAINWRIGHT, Commander, U. S. Navy, Superintendent. "Surg. A. M. D. MCCORMICK, U. S. Navy. "U. S. Naval Academy.
"Navy Department. Approved May 13, 1902. (Signed) "W. H. MOODY, Secretary."
Section 1587 of the Revised Statutes, upon which the Auditor based his disallowance, is as follows:
"No funeral expense of a naval officer who dies in the United States, nor expenses of travel to attend the funeral of an officer who dies there, shall be allowed."
The meaning of this statute is unmistakable.
It was clearly intended to prohibit the payment of any and all expense of travel to attend the funeral of a naval officer who dies in this country.
This law is fully recognized by Navy Regulations, in article 1231, paragraph 5, as follows:
"No expenses for travel to attend the funeral of a naval officer who dies in the United States shall be allowed.”
The travel in this case was made in attending the funeral of Rear-Admiral W. T. Sampson, who died in the United States.
There is no exception or reservation in the statute. It can therefore make no difference in what capacity the officer attends the funeral-whether in connection with a battalion of cadets or as an individual-the prohibition is equally effective and the expense can not be allowed.
I am of opinion, therefore, that the disallowance was properly made.
TRANSPORTATION OF REMAINS OF DECEASED OFFICER OVER LAND-GRANT RAILROAD AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE.
Where the remains of a deceased officer of the Navy are transported over a land-grant railroad at Government expense the charges therefor are subject to the usual land-grant deduction.
(Decision by Acting Comptroller Mitchell, October 31, 1904.)
Ray Spear, paymaster, U. S. Navy, appealed October 11, 1904, from the action of the Auditor for the Navy Department in disallowing, in settlement dated July 19, 1904, the sum of $18.63, being the difference between the full rate paid by him to the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company for transporting from San Francisco to Boston the remains of the late Rear-Admiral Frank Wildes, U. S. Navy, and the land-grant rate of 50 per cent less over certain portions of the route.
The Navy Department had a contract with the railroad for services during the fiscal year 1903, in the "transportation of enlisted men of the United States Navy, including enlisted men transferred at Government expense upon discharge."
Paymaster Spear was informed by the agent of the railroad that it was held by the company that there was nothing in their contract with the Navy Department which applied to the transportation of a corpse at special contract rates; whereupon Mr. Spear paid the full rates charged.
I do not think that the service performed by the railroad company can fairly be held to be included in the terms of the contract as given above.
The Auditor in his action did not dispute the conclusion that the contract did not cover the transportation in this case, but made the disallowance for the reason that the full rate charged was subject to land-grant deduction without any reference to the contract.
It is well known, and it will doubtless be conceded without argument or the citation of the statutes and decisions making the requirement, that the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway, as well as certain connecting lines which performed service in this case, by reason of having received grants of the public lands, are required to transport the property and
troops of the United States at a deduction of 50 per cent from their regular rates.
Rear-Admiral Wildes had died abroad, and his remains were being transported to his home, at the expense of the Government, by authority of law. (9 Comp. Dec., 532.) The expenses of a casket, embalming the body, and preparing it for shipment had been incurred by the Government. Admitting that a corpse is not property, using the word property in its ordinary sense, the casket and other articles used by the Government in preparing the body for shipment were the property of the United States.
The act of July 1, 1902 (32 Stat., 663), under "Contingent, Navy," provides as follows:
"That the unexpended balance of the appropriation of ten thousand dollars made in the act approved June seventh, nineteen hundred, to enable the Secretary of the Navy, in his discretion, to cause to be transported to their homes the remains of officers and enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps who die or are killed in action ashore or afloat, outside the continental limits of the United States, be, and the same is hereby, made available until used."
It was under this law that the remains of Rear-Admiral Wildes were being transported from the place where he died outside the continental limits of the United States to his home in the United States. They were being transported at public expense. It was a shipment by the Government and the transportation was furnished to the United States by the railroad company. I am of opinion the payment should be at land grant railroad rates. The action of the Auditor, therefore, is affirmed.
COMPUTING PAYMENTS OF ANNUAL COMPENSATION FOR A FRACTIONAL PART OF A MONTH.
Where a retired officer of the Revenue-Cutter Service died on the thirtieth day of a thirty-one day month, and no one was appointed to fill the vacancy caused by his death, his estate is entitled to receive as the officer's pay during said month the one-twelfth part of his annual compensation.
(Decision by Comptroller Tracewell, November 11, 1904.)
The Auditor for the Treasury Department by settlement dated November 5, 1904, of Michael A. Healy, for his salary