As Amended on Denial of Rehearing
Oct. 13, 1947.
Appeal from the District Court of the United States for the District of Columbia.[ Aircraft & Diesel Equipment Corporation v. Hirsch 331 U.S. 752 (1947) ]
[331 U.S. 752 , 754] Mr. Arthur R. Hall, of Chicago, Ill., for appellants.
Mr. Robert L. Stern, of Washington, D.C., for appellees.
Mr. Justice RUTLEDGE delivered the opinion of the Court.
This case is the fourth in a series seeking here a determination of the invalidity, on constitutional grounds, of the First and Second Renegotiation Acts1 and allied legislation.
In Coffman v. Breeze Corporations, 323 U.S. 316 , and in Alma Motor Co. v. Timken-Detroit Axle Co., 329 U.S. 129 , the Royalty Adjustment Act2 was attacked. The Alma Motor case was remanded to the Circuit Court of Appeals for a determination of the Act's applicability. The suit in the Coffman case was by a patent owner to restrain his licensees from paying accrued royalties to the Government pursuant to the Act's provisions. We held [331 U.S. 752 , 755] that the complaint had been rightly dismissed for want of equity jurisdiction, since the plaintiff had an adequate remedy at law by suit against its licensees, and also for want of a justiciable case or controversy.
In Mine Safety Appliances Co. v. Forrestal, 326 U.S. 371 , a government contractor challenged the Renegotiation Acts. 3 The complaint sought to enjoin the Secretary of the Navy from taking action 'which would stop payment by the government of money lawfully in the United Sttes Treasuery to satisfy the government's and not the Secretary's debt to the appellant.' 326 U.S. at page 374, 66 S.Ct. at page 221. Accordingly we held that the Government was an indispensable party. Since it neither had been joined in the suit nor had consented to be sued in such a proceeding, it followed that the complaint had been properly dismissed.
In one other case, Macauley v. Waterman S.S. Corporation, 327 U.S. 540 , constitutionality was not involved, but coverage of the Renegotiation Acts was put in issue. The suit was brought in a District Court for a declaratory judgment and to restrain further renegotiation proceedings affecting the specified contracts. The contractor had not sought a decision on coverage from the Tax Court. We held that the Tax Court has power to decide such questions in the proceedings authorized by 403(e)(1) of the Second Renegotiation Act. Hence, under the authority of Myers v. Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corporation, 303 U.S. 41 , the complaint in the Waterman case also was held rightly to have been dismissed, in this instance for the plaintiff's failure to exhaust its administrative remedy.
Now the Aircraft & Diesel Equipment Corporation seeks a declaratory judgment that the First and Second Renegotiation Acts are unconstitutional on various grounds. Injunctive relief also is asked. And, in addi- [331 U.S. 752 , 756] tion to the constitutional questions, determination is sought of issues of coverage and other matters.
The defendants, appellees here, consist of the members of the War Contracts Price Adjustment Board, the Secretary of War, and the Under Secretary of War. 4 Pursuant to the statutory requirement, 50 Stat. 751, 752, 28 U.S.C. 380a, 28 U.S.C.A. 380a, a district court of three judges was especially convened. After hearing, the complaint was dismissed. 5 One ground for this action was that the suit is premature, since proceedings were pending and undetermined in the Tax Court, pursuant to appellant's applications, for redetermination of its allegedly excessive profits for 1942 and 1943.6 The court also held that it was without jurisdiction in equity, since in its view adequate remedy at law was available to Aircraft. Probable jurisdiction of the appeal was duly noted here. 7 .
We think the District Court correctly dismissed the complaint, and for the reasons stated as grounding its action. The issues expansively include almost all comprehended in the causes previously determined here. But the case reaches this Court in a posture differing in some sub- [331 U.S. 752 , 757] stantial respects from that characterizing any of those proceedings. Hence it becomes necessary to set forth with some particularity the facts and controlling issues.
Appellant is in the business of manufacturing diesel fuel injection equipment and precision parts, and aircraft precision parts. Its manufacturing activities, insofar as material,8 were carried on under subcontracts with government contractors. The contractor in turn furnished the completed aircraft or engines t the Unite d States.
Pursuant to the First Renegotiation Act, the Secretary of War, acting though his delegate the Under Secretary of War, determined on October 27, 1943, that during the fiscal year ended November 30, 1942, appellant had realized excessive profits (less tax credits) amounting to $204,000. On April 29, 1944, the Under Secretary directed appellant's customers to withhold this sum from appellant. Thereafter it filed a petition with the Tax Court9 for a redetermination of the alleged excessive [331 U.S. 752 , 758] profits. Nevertheless, on July 19, 1944, the Under Secretary further directed appellant's customers to pay the $204,000 into the Treasury of the United States, and this direction was obeyed.