As Amended on Denial of Rehearing June 21, 1948.
Mr. John R. Benney, of Washington, D.C., for Philip B. Fleming, Temporary Controls Administrator.
Mr. George D. Rathbun, of Manhattan, Kan., for W. H. Hills, pro hac vice, by Special Leave of Court.
Mr. Chief Justice VINSON delivered the opinion of the Court.
In this case, the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit has certified questions of law concerning which it asks instructions for the proper decision of the cause pending in that court. Judicial Code, 239, 28 U.S.C. 346, 28 U.S.C.A. 346.
The certificate states that this is an action brought by the Administrator for treble damages and for an injunc- [334 U.S. 210 , 212] tion under 205 of the Emergency Price Control Act1 and under the Rent Regulation for Housing. 2 Hills, the defendant below, remodeled apartments located in a Defense Rental Area, subject to the Rent Regulations, and duly registered them. Thereafter, on December 17, 1943, the maximum rents were reduced by the Area Rent Director pursuant to 5(c) of the Regulation; and on March 7, 1945, the Rent Director issued an order further reducing the maximum rents.
On trial in the District Court without a jury, the parties stipulated that the only issue was the validity of the second order. The District Court entered judgment for the defendant on October 29, 1946, holding that the burden was on the Administrator to establish the validity of the second order and that he had failed to introduce proof establishing its validity.
At the time the District Court entered its judgment, exclusive jurisdiction to pass on the validity of a regulation or order issued by the Administrator was vested in the Emergency Court of Appeals and in this Court upon review of judgments and orders of the Emergency Court. 204(d), 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, 924(d). However, the appeal by the Administrator from the judgment of the District Court was not submitted in the Circuit Court of Appeals until September 10, 1947, and the Emergency Price Control Act expired by its terms on June 30, 1947. 1(b), 50 U.S.C.A.Appendix, 901(b).
The questions certified are as follows:
There can be no doubt that the exclusive jurisdiction conferred on the Emergency Court of Appeals by 204(d)3 precluded the District Court in 1946 from de- [334 U.S. 210 , 214] termining the validity of the individual rent order even though the defense to the action brought there was based on the alleged invalidity of the order. 4
The Emergency Price Control Act was to terminate on June 30, 1947. Section 1(b), which fixed that date, expressly provides that 'as to offenses committed, or rights or liabilities incurred, prior to such termination date, the provisions of this Act and such regulations, orders, price schedules, and requirements shall be treated as still remaining in force for the purpose of sustaining any proper suit, action, or prosecution with respect to any such right, liability, or offense.' Since the offense complained of in the case at bar occurred before the termination date, 1(b) would apply and the Emergency Court of Appeals would still have exclusive jurisdiction to pass on the validity of the second rent order, if additional prerequisites set forth in 204(e)(1) of the statute were satisfied. 5
Jurisdiction of the Emergency Court of Appeals over any complaint arises, pursuant to 204(e)(1), when the court in which a civil or criminal enforcement proceeding is pending has granted the defendant leave to file in the Emergency Court of Appeals a complaint setting forth objections to the validity of any provision which the defendant is alleged to have violated, and the defendant has duly filed such a complaint. Prior to a 1947 amendment, 204(e)(1) provided that 'Within thirty days after arraignment, or such additional time as the court may allow for good cause shown, in any criminal proceed- [334 U.S. 210 , 215] ing, and within five days after judgment in any civil or criminal proceeding, brought pursuant to section 205 of this Act or section 37 of the Criminal Code, involving alleged violation of any provision of any regulation of order issued under section 2 or of any price schedule effective in accordance with the provisions of section 206, the defendant may apply to the court in which the proceeding is pending for leave to file in the Emergency Court of Appeals a complaint against the Administrator setting forth objections to the validity of any provision which the defendant is alleged to have violated or conspired to violate. The court in which the proceeding is pending shall grant such leave with respect to any objection which it finds is made in good faith and with respect to which it finds there is reasonable and substantial excuse for the defendant's failure to present such objection in a protest filed in accordance with section 203(a).6 Upon the filing of a complaint pursuant to and within thirty days from the granting of such leave, the Emergency Court of Appeals shall have jurisdiction to enjoin or set aside in whole or in part the provision of the regulation, order, or price schedule complained of or to dismiss the complaint. * * *'
However, the Supplemental Appropriation Act, 1948, approved July 30, 1947, amended 204(e) by striking out the first sentence of the foregoing provision and substituting the following: 'Within sixty days after the date of enactment of this amendment, or within sixty days after arraignment in any criminal proceedings and within sixty days after commencement of any civil pro- [334 U.S. 210 , 216] ceedings brought pursuant to section 205 of this Act or section 37 of the Criminal Code, involving alleged violation of any provision of any regulation or order issued under section 2 or alleged violation of any price schedule effective in accordance with the provisions of section 206 with respect to which responsibility was transferred to the Department of Commerce by Executive Order 9841,7 the defendant may apply to the court in which the proceeding is pending for leave to file in the Emergency Court of Appeals a complaint against the Administrator setting forth objections to the validity of any provision which the defendant is alleged to have violated or conspired to violate.'
Since responsibility for functions with respect to rent control was transferred by Executive Order 9841 to the Housing Expediter rather than to the Department of Commerce, the necessary effect of the foregoing amendment is to eliminate entirely the statutory right the defendant in the present case previously had to apply to the District Court for leave to file a complaint in the Emergency Court of Appeals. As a corollary, the latter court can no longer acquire jurisdiction pursuant to 204(e) over any complaint which defendant may desire to file with it to contest the validity of the second rent order.
We may now consider what effect the 1947 amendment, thus viewed, has upon the 'exclusive jurisdiction' provision in 204(d), which was preserved by the saving cause of 1(b). If elimination of the complaint procedure of 204(e) as a remedy for those seeking to challenge rent orders meant the elimination of all provision for review by the Emergency Court of Appeals, it might be argued that preservation of the ban imposed by [334 U.S. 210 , 217] s 204(d) on district court adjudication of the validity of rent orders would be a denial of due process to a defendant charged with a violation of an order.
However, the 1947 amendment left unimpaired the provision in 203(a) for review of rent orders by filing protests with the Administrator (i.e., the Housing Expediter, as transferee of the Administrator's rent control functions). A denial of such a protest may be reviewed in the Emergency Court of Appeals by filing a complaint pursuant to 204(a). Prior to an amendment added by the Stabilization Extension Act of 1944, protests could be filed under 203(a) only within a period of sixty days after the issuance of the regulation or order sought to be challenged. Under the 1944 amendment, which is preserved unchanged for rent orders, this period was extended so that protests can be filed 'At any time after the issuance' of the regulation or order, although the 1947 amendment expressly takes cognizance of the right of the United States or any officer thereof to dismiss any protest under 203 on the ground of laches.