[279 U.S. 655, 657] Messrs. Wm. S. Lewis, of Spokane, Wash., and A. L. Servan and John G. Carter, both of Washington, D. C., for petitioners.
[279 U.S. 655, 661] Messrs. W. D. Mitchell, Atty. Gen., and Robert P. Reeder, Sp. Asst. to the Atty. Gen., for the United States.
[279 U.S. 655, 665] Mr. Hatton W. Sumners, of Dallas, Tex., for Judiciary Committee of House of Representatives, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court.
Mr. Justice SANFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case presents the question whether, under the second clause in section 7 of Article 1 of the Constitution of the United States, a bill which is passed by both Houses of Congress during the first regular session of a particular Congress and presented to the President less than ten days (Sundays excepted) before the adjournment of that session, but is neither signed by the President nor returned by him to the house in which it originated, becomes a law in like manner as if he had signed it.
At the first session of the 69th Congress Senate Bill No. 3185, entitled 'An Act authorizing certain Indian tribes and bands, or any of them, residing in the State of Washington, to present their claims to the Court of Claims,' having been passed by both Houses of Congress and duly authenticated, was presented to the President on June 24, 1926. On July 3 the first session of the 69th Congress was adjourned, under a house concurrent resolution. 1 The Congress was not again in session until the commencement of the second session on the first Monday in December. 2 And neither House of Congress was in session on July 6-the tenth day after the bill had been presented to the President (Sundays excepted). [279 U.S. 655, 673] The President neither signed the bill nor returned it to the Senate. And it was not published as a law.
Taking the position that the bill had become a law without the signature of the President, the Okanogan and other Indian tribes residing in the State of Washington in March, 1927, filed a petition in the Court of Claims setting up certain claims in accordance with the terms of the bill. The United States demurred to the petition. The court sustained the demurrer and dismissed the petition, on the ground that under the provisions of the Constitution the bill had not become a law.
In view of the public importance of the question presented we granted the petitioners a writ of certiorari. 278 U.S. 597 , 49 S. Ct. 186, 73 L. Ed. -. And for like reason, at the request of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, we granted Mr. Sumners, a member of that Committee, leave to appear as amicus curiae. He has aided us by a comprehensive and forcible presentation of arguments against the conclusion of the court below.
The clause of the Constitution here in question reads as follows: 'Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States; if he approve he shall sign it, but if not be shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. ... If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days ( Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like manner as if he had signed it, [279 U.S. 655, 674] unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.'