B-109268, JULY 24, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 51

B-109268: Jul 24, 1952

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THAT WERE INVALIDATED BY THE RETROACTIVE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 24. 1952: REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF APRIL 21. WERE PERFORMING SERVICES REQUIRING A MASTER'S DEGREE AND WHO SUBSEQUENT TO THAT DATE BUT PRIOR TO OCTOBER 24. WERE PROMOTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 8 OF THE 1947 ACT. THE RULE IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT GENERALLY. NEITHER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NOR THE STATES MAY IMPAIR OR DIVEST VESTED RIGHTS EXCEPT IN THE LEGITIMATE EXERCISE OF THE POLICE POWER AND THAT RETROSPECTIVE LAWS DISTURBING OR DESTROYING EXISTING OR VESTED RIGHTS OR CREATING NEW OBLIGATIONS WITH RESPECT TO PAST TRANSACTIONS ARE INVALID. 16 C.J.S. IN VIEW OF SUCH RULE IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT THE PAYMENTS MADE TO THE TEACHERS INVOLVED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE 1947 ACT WERE LEGAL AND PROPER WHEN MADE AND MAY NOT BE RENDERED ILLEGAL BY THE PROVISIONS OF THE SUBSEQUENTLY ENACTED PUBLIC LAW 192.

B-109268, JULY 24, 1952, 32 COMP. GEN. 51

COMPENSATION - RATES - STATUTORY INVALIDATION OF PROMOTIONS - RETROACTIVE APPLICATION - DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SCHOOL TEACHERS THOSE TEACHERS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WHO RECEIVED PROMOTIONS BETWEEN JULY 1, 1947, AND OCTOBER 24, 1951, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TEACHERS' SALARY ACT OF 1947, AS AMENDED, THAT WERE INVALIDATED BY THE RETROACTIVE EFFECTIVE DATE OF THE ACT OF OCTOBER 24, 1951, MAY RETAIN COMPENSATION FOR SERVICES RENDERED IN SUCH PROMOTED STATUS PRIOR TO OCTOBER 24, 1951, HOWEVER, ANY EXCESS COMPENSATION RECEIVED CONTRARY TO THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1951 ACT FOR SERVICES RENDERED SUBSEQUENT TO OCTOBER 24, 1951, SHOULD BE REFUNDED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL YATES TO THE PRESIDENT, BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, JULY 24, 1952:

REFERENCE IS MADE TO LETTER OF THE ACTING PRESIDENT OF APRIL 21, 1952, REQUESTING A DECISION AS TO WHETHER THE RETROACTIVE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 5, PUBLIC LAW 192, APPROVED OCTOBER 24, 1951, 65 STAT. 603, REQUIRE THAT CERTAIN TEACHERS IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SUFFER A REDUCTION IN SALARY LAWFULLY PAID TO THEM UNDER THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA TEACHERS' SALARY ACT OF 1947, 61 STAT. 248, AS AMENDED, AND WHETHER SUCH TEACHERS MUST REIMBURSE THE DISTRICT GOVERNMENT FOR ANY EXCESS SALARY PAID AS A RESULT OF SUCH RETROACTIVE PROVISIONS.

IT APPEARS THAT SOME 19 TEACHERS WHO, ON JULY 1, 1947, WERE PERFORMING SERVICES REQUIRING A MASTER'S DEGREE AND WHO SUBSEQUENT TO THAT DATE BUT PRIOR TO OCTOBER 24, 1951, RECEIVED SUCH DEGREES, WERE PROMOTED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 8 OF THE 1947 ACT. SECTION 5 OF PUBLIC LAW 192, SUPRA, THE EFFECTIVE DATE OF WHICH ANTEDATES THE PROMOTION DATES OF THE SMALL GROUP OF TEACHERS WHO RECEIVED THEIR MASTER'S DEGREES AFTER JULY 1, 1947, WOULD, IF CONSTRUED LITERALLY, INVALIDATE RETROSPECTIVELY THE PROMOTIONS GRANTED SUCH TEACHERS UNDER SECTION 8 OF THE 1947 ACT, AS WELL AS REQUIRE A REDUCTION IN THEIR SALARIES EFFECTIVE OCTOBER 24, 1951.

WITH RESPECT TO THE PAYMENTS TO THE TEACHERS INVOLVED MADE BETWEEN THE DATES OF THEIR RESPECTIVE PROMOTIONS AND PRIOR TO THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW 192, THE RULE IS WELL ESTABLISHED THAT GENERALLY, NEITHER THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT NOR THE STATES MAY IMPAIR OR DIVEST VESTED RIGHTS EXCEPT IN THE LEGITIMATE EXERCISE OF THE POLICE POWER AND THAT RETROSPECTIVE LAWS DISTURBING OR DESTROYING EXISTING OR VESTED RIGHTS OR CREATING NEW OBLIGATIONS WITH RESPECT TO PAST TRANSACTIONS ARE INVALID. 16 C.J.S. CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, SECTIONS 216 AND 417. ALSO, SEE FISK V. POLICE JURY, 116 U.S. 131, AND ICKES V. FOX, 300 U.S. 82. IN VIEW OF SUCH RULE IT SEEMS CLEAR THAT THE PAYMENTS MADE TO THE TEACHERS INVOLVED UNDER AUTHORITY OF THE 1947 ACT WERE LEGAL AND PROPER WHEN MADE AND MAY NOT BE RENDERED ILLEGAL BY THE PROVISIONS OF THE SUBSEQUENTLY ENACTED PUBLIC LAW 192. ACCORDINGLY, ANY PAYMENTS MADE TO SUCH TEACHERS FOR SERVICES RENDERED PRIOR TO OCTOBER 24, 1951, NEED NOT BE RECOVERED. IF, HOWEVER, ANY EXCESS PAYMENTS HAVE BEEN MADE TO ANY OF SUCH TEACHERS CONTRARY TO THE PROVISIONS OF PUBLIC LAW 192, FOR SERVICES RENDERED SINCE THE DATE OF ITS ENACTMENT, SUCH EXCESS PAYMENTS SHOULD BE RECOVERED. THE QUESTIONS POSED BY YOUR SUBMISSION ARE ANSWERED ACCORDINGLY.