B-4523, JANUARY 12, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 636

B-4523: Jan 12, 1940

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY PERIOD LIMITATION - NAVAL VESSEL REPLACEMENTS WHERE THE INTENTION OF THE CONGRESS IS EXPRESSED IN TERMS SUFFICIENTLY INTELLIGIBLE TO LEAVE NO DOUBT IN THE MIND WHEN THE WORDS ARE TAKEN IN THEIR ORDINARY SENSE. IS NOT SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR A STRAINED INTERPRETATION. AMMUNITION" AS TO ANY SHIP "AFTER 12 MONTHS SHALL HAVE ELAPSED FROM COMMISSIONING DATE. " BEING CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS AS REFERRING TO THE DATE WHEN A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED VESSEL WAS FIRST COMMISSIONED. SQUALUS WAS COMMISSIONED ON MARCH 1. THE WORK OF RAISING HER WAS NOT COMPLETED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 15. SHE WAS DECOMMISSIONED ON NOVEMBER 15. IS NOW BEING RECONDITIONED. SHE WILL BE PLACED BACK IN COMMISSION AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATE AND WILL THEREUPON BE SUBJECT TO THE REGULAR TRIALS AND MATERIAL INSPECTION.

B-4523, JANUARY 12, 1940, 19 COMP. GEN. 636

STATUTORY CONSTRUCTION - APPROPRIATION AVAILABILITY PERIOD LIMITATION - NAVAL VESSEL REPLACEMENTS WHERE THE INTENTION OF THE CONGRESS IS EXPRESSED IN TERMS SUFFICIENTLY INTELLIGIBLE TO LEAVE NO DOUBT IN THE MIND WHEN THE WORDS ARE TAKEN IN THEIR ORDINARY SENSE, MERE ADMINISTRATIVE INCONVENIENCE OR A MATTER OF INNER GOVERNMENTAL WORKING PROCEDURE AND APPROPRIATION CONTROL--- SUCH AS WHICH OF DIFFERENT APPROPRIATIONS SHALL BE OBLIGATED FOR WORK AFTER A CERTAIN DATE--- WHICH NEITHER INVOLVES A QUESTION OF FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS NOR A DEPARTURE FROM ESTABLISHED LEGAL CONCEPTS, IS NOT SUFFICIENT JUSTIFICATION FOR A STRAINED INTERPRETATION. THE STATUTORY PROHIBITION AGAINST OBLIGATING "FOR ANY PURPOSE" THE FISCAL YEAR 1940 APPROPRIATIONS " REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, CONSTRUCTION AND MACHINERY" AND " REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, ARMOR, ARMAMENT, AND AMMUNITION" AS TO ANY SHIP "AFTER 12 MONTHS SHALL HAVE ELAPSED FROM COMMISSIONING DATE," BEING CLEAR AND UNAMBIGUOUS AS REFERRING TO THE DATE WHEN A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED VESSEL WAS FIRST COMMISSIONED, IT MAY NOT BE INTERPRETED TO MEAN "AFTER 12 MONTHS OF COMMISSIONED SERVICE," SO AS TO AUTHORIZE AN EXPENDITURE OF SAID FUNDS IN THE CASE OF A SUBMARINE--- DECOMMISSIONED PRIOR TO EXPIRATION OF 12 MONTH PERIOD AFTER SINKING DURING A DIVING TEST, AND LATER RECOMMISSIONED-- AFTER THE 12-MONTH PERIOD FROM ORIGINAL COMMISSIONING DATE HAS EXPIRED.

ACTING COMPTROLLER GENERAL ELLIOTT TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY, JANUARY 12, 1940:

CONSIDERATION HAS BEEN GIVEN THE MATTER SUBMITTED IN YOUR LETTER OF DECEMBER 28, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THE U.S.S. SQUALUS WAS COMMISSIONED ON MARCH 1, 1939. ON MAY 23, 1939, SHE SANK WHILE UNDERGOING A DIVING TEST, PREPARATORY TO HER PRELIMINARY ACCEPTANCE TRIALS, AND THE WORK OF RAISING HER WAS NOT COMPLETED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 15, 1939. SHE WAS DECOMMISSIONED ON NOVEMBER 15, 1939, AND IS NOW BEING RECONDITIONED. SHE WILL BE PLACED BACK IN COMMISSION AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATE AND WILL THEREUPON BE SUBJECT TO THE REGULAR TRIALS AND MATERIAL INSPECTION, THE SAME AS A NEW VESSEL. IT IS EXPECTED THAT NONE OF THESE TRIALS WILL BE COMPLETED PRIOR TO MARCH 1, 1940.

THE CURRENT NAVAL APPROPRIATION ACT APPROVED MAY 25, 1939 ( PUB., NO. 90, 76TH CONG., 53 STAT., CHAP. 149), CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING LIMITATION:

"NEITHER THE APPROPRIATION " REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, CONSTRUCTION AND MACHINERY," NOR THE APPROPRIATION " REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, ARMOR, ARMAMENT, AND AMMUNITION," SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR OBLIGATION FOR ANY PURPOSE AS TO SHIPS COMMISSIONED PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1938, NOR AS TO ANY SHIP COMMISSIONED SUBSEQUENT TO SUCH DATE AFTER TWELVE MONTHS SHALL HAVE ELAPSED FROM COMMISSIONING DATE.'

YOUR DECISION IS REQUESTED AS TO WHEN THE TIME LIMITATION FOR OBLIGATING THE AFORESAID APPROPRIATIONS WILL EXPIRE IN THE CASE OF THE U.S.S. SQUALUS. IN THIS CONNECTION THERE IS ENCLOSED HEREWITH AN OPINION OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE NAVY WHICH CONTAINS A DISCUSSION OF THIS QUESTION AND AN EXPRESSION OF HIS VIEWS THEREON.

THE NAVY DEPARTMENT WOULD APPRECIATE A REPLY AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATE.

THE STATUTORY PROHIBITION AGAINST OBLIGATING "FOR ANY PURPOSE" THE APPROPRIATIONS "REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, CONSTRUCTION AND MACHINERY" AND "REPLACEMENT OF NAVAL VESSELS, ARMOR, ARMAMENT, AND AMMUNITION" AS TO ANY SHIP "AFTER 12 MONTHS SHALL HAVE ELAPSED FROM COMMISSIONING DATE" FIRST APPEARS IN THE NAVY APPROPRIATION ACT OF APRIL 26, 1938, FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1939, 52 STAT. 223, 243.

THE REASON FOR SUCH RESTRICTION WAS EXPLAINED IN THE LEGISLATIVE REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS ON THE 1939 NAVY APPROPRIATION BILL, IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, H.R. REPORT NO. 1699, SEVENTY-FIFTH CONGRESS, THIRD SESSION, AT PAGES 18-19, AS FOLLOWS:

IT (THE BILL) EXCLUDES AMOUNTS AGGREGATING $2,536,850, WHICH THE BUDGET INCLUDES FOR EXPENDITURE UPON 25 VESSELS COMMISSIONED PRIOR TO LAST JULY 1, NAMELY, 2 CRUISERS, 20 DESTROYERS, 2 SUBMARINES, AND 1 GUNBOAT.

THERE APPEARS ON PAGES 509-11 OF THE HEARINGS THE PROGRESS/OF/WORK REPORT ON VESSELS UNDER CONSTRUCTION AS OF DECEMBER 10, 1937. THE COMMITTEE FOUND ITEMS IN THE BUDGET LOOKING TO THE EXPENDITURE DURING THE FISCAL YEAR OF 1939 OF $2,826,850 UPON VESSELS NOT EVEN APPEARING ON THE PROGRESS/OF/WORK REPORT; VESSELS, WITH FOUR EXCEPTIONS, WHICH WERE PLACED IN COMMISSION IN BOTH THE FISCAL YEARS OF 1936 AND 1937. IT ALSO DEVELOPED IN THE HEARINGS THAT APPROPRIATIONS AGGREGATING $1,924,572 WOULD BE ASKED FOR ON ACCOUNT OF THIS PARTICULAR GROUP OF VESSELS IN THE FISCAL YEAR OF 1940. IT FURTHER WAS DEVELOPED IN THE HEARINGS THAT AS TO A GROUP OF SHIPS SCHEDULED FOR COMPLETION DURING THE PRESENT FISCAL YEAR, AN EXPENDITURE OF $3,487,380 WOULD BE INCURRED DURING THE FISCAL YEAR OF 1939, AND A FURTHER ONE OF $9,743,695 DURING THE FISCAL YEAR OF 1940; ALSO, THAT AS TO A GROUP SCHEDULED FOR COMMISSIONING DURING THE FISCAL YEAR OF 1939 THAT THERE WOULD NEED TO BE APPROPRIATED THEREFOR IN SUBSEQUENT FISCAL YEARS A TOTAL OF $51,131,418. THESE DISCLOSURES MANIFESTLY RAISE THE QUESTION AS TO WHEN A NEW VESSEL CEASES TO BE UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND ENTERS UPON A MAINTENANCE STATUS.

THE POLICY OF THE NAVY DEPARTMENT, QUOTING THE CHIEF CONSTRUCTOR, "AS SET FORTH BY THE SECRETARY, IS NOT TO AUTHORIZE ITEMS OF WORK ON ANY VESSEL, PRIVATELY BUILT OR NAVY YARD BUILT, AFTER THE 6 MONTHS' GUARANTY PERIOD, BUT DURING THAT PERIOD ITEMS OF WORK MAY COME TO LIGHT WHICH MAY BE AUTHORIZED BY THE NAVY DEPARTMENT," AND IT WAS FURTHER STATED THAT AS TO SUCH ITEMS OF WORK AS "MAY COME TO LIGHT," THE PRACTICE IS TO PERMIT EXPENDITURES AS A CHARGE TO THE APPROPRIATION " REPLACEMENT, NAVY," FOR A PERIOD OF 27 MONTHS AFTER A VESSEL HAS BEEN PLACED IN COMMISSION. THE COMMITTEE SUBMITS THAT THE POLICY AND PRACTICE ARE WRONG AND THAT AFTER A SHIP HAS BEEN COMMISSIONED, OTHER THAN TO CORRECT DEFECTIVE WORKMANSHIP OR FAULTY CONSTRUCTION DETECTED DURING THE GUARANTY PERIOD, CHARGES AGAINST NEW CONSTRUCTION FUNDS SHOULD CEASE. OTHER WORK WHICH IT MAY APPEAR NECESSARY OR DESIRABLE TO HAVE PERFORMED SHOULD BE PROVIDED FOR UNDER MAINTENANCE AND REPAIR APPROPRIATIONS. BESIDES REFUSING THE APPROPRIATION OF $2,536,850 PREVIOUSLY MENTIONED, THE COMMITTEE HAS ATTACHED TO THE APPROPRIATION " REPLACEMENT, NAVY," A PROVISION DESIGNED TO PRECLUDE ITS OBLIGATION FOR ANY PURPOSE AS TO SHIPS COMMISSIONED PRIOR TO JULY 1, 1937, AND AS TO ANY SHIP COMMISSIONED SUBSEQUENT TO SUCH DATE AFTER 12 MONTHS HAVE ELAPSED FROM THE DATE OF COMMISSIONING.

THE APPROPRIATIONS IN QUESTION ARE FOR THE CONSTRUCTION AND EQUIPMENT OF NEW VESSELS. FROM THE STATEMENT JUST QUOTED FROM THE COMMITTEE REPORT IT IS CLEAR THAT THE PURPOSE OF THE RESTRICTION WAS TO FIX A DEFINITE TIME WHEN THE OBLIGATION OF SUCH NEW CONSTRUCTION APPROPRIATIONS SHOULD CEASE AND AFTER WHICH ANY FURTHER COSTS SHOULD BE CHARGED TO REGULAR REPAIR AND MAINTENANCE APPROPRIATIONS. THAT BEING THE PURPOSE, THE TERMS "COMMISSIONED" AND "COMMISSIONING DATE" AS USED IN THE STATUTORY LIMITATION WOULD APPEAR UNQUESTIONABLY AS INTENDED TO REFER TO THE DATE WHEN A NEWLY CONSTRUCTED VESSEL WAS FIRST COMMISSIONED. THE LANGUAGE "AFTER 12 MONTHS HAVE ELAPSED" FROM COMMISSIONING DATE IS PLAIN AND UNAMBIGUOUS, AND, THEREFORE, IS NOT SUBJECT TO INTERPRETATION. UNITED STATES V. WILTBERGER, 5 WHEAT. 76; CARY V. CURTIS, 3 HOW. 236; UNITED STATES V. EWING, 184 U.S. 140; UNITED STATES V. STANDARD BREWERY, 251 U.S. 210; COMMISSIONER OF IMMIGRATION V. GOTTLIEB, 265 U.S. 310; UNITED STATES V. MISSOURI PACIFIC R.R. CO., 278 U.S. 269.

THE OPINION OF THE JUDGE ADVOCATE GENERAL OF THE NAVY ARGUES, HOWEVER, THAT A LITERAL APPLICATION OF THE STATUTE IN THE EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCES AFFECTING THE COMPLETION OF THE SQUALUS WILL PRODUCE A RESULT NOT WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE CONGRESS IN ENACTING THE RESTRICTION, AND, THEREFORE, THAT A CONSTRUCTION OF THE STATUTORY LANGUAGE "AFTER 12 MONTHS HAVE ELAPSED FROM COMMISSIONING DATE" TO MEAN " 12 MONTHS OF COMMISSIONED SERVICE" WOULD BE REASONABLE AND PERMISSIBLE. WHILE SUCH ARGUMENT IS APPEALING IN THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THIS PARTICULAR CASE, THE PROPOSED CONSTRUCTION WOULD NOT APPEAR TO BE JUSTIFIED UNDER SETTLED PRINCIPLES OF STATUTORY INTERPRETATION. IT IS TO BE REMEMBERED THAT THE REAL QUESTION HERE IS MERELY WHICH OF DIFFERENT APPROPRIATIONS SHALL BE OBLIGATED FOR WORK ON THE VESSEL AFTER A CERTAIN DATE, A DETAIL OF INNER GOVERNMENTAL WORKING PROCEDURE AND APPROPRIATION CONTROL, ABSOLUTELY SUBJECT TO THE DIRECTION OF THE CONGRESS, AND NOT INVOLVING FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS OR A DEPARTURE FROM ESTABLISHED LEGAL CONCEPTS. IN UNITED STATES V. FISHER, 2 CRANCH 358, 389, CHIEF JUSTICE MARSHALL, IN DELIVERING THE OPINION OF THE COURT, SAID:

THE MISCHIEFS TO RESULT FROM THE CONSTRUCTION ON WHICH THE UNITED STATES INSIST HAVE BEEN STATED AS STRONG MOTIVES FOR OVERRULING THAT CONSTRUCTION. THAT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE TO BE CONSIDERED IN EXPOUNDING LAWS, WHERE THE INTENT IS DOUBTFUL, IS A PRINCIPLE NOT TO BE CONTROVERTED; BUT IT IS ALSO TRUE THAT IT IS A PRINCIPLE WHICH MUST BE APPLIED WITH CAUTION, AND WHICH HAS A DEGREE OF INFLUENCE DEPENDENT ON THE NATURE OF THE CASE TO WHICH IT IS APPLIED. WHERE RIGHTS ARE INFRINGED, WHERE FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES ARE OVERTHROWN, WHERE THE GENERAL SYSTEM OF THE LAWS IS DEPARTED FROM, THE LEGISLATIVE INTENTION MUST BE EXPRESSED WITH IRRESISTIBLE CLEARNESS TO INDUCE A COURT OF JUSTICE TO SUPPOSE A DESIGN TO EFFECT SUCH OBJECTS. BUT WHERE ONLY A POLITICAL REGULATION IS MADE, WHICH IS INCONVENIENT, IF THE INTENTION OF THE LEGISLATURE BE EXPRESSED IN TERMS WHICH ARE SUFFICIENTLY INTELLIGIBLE TO LEAVE NO DOUBT IN THE MIND WHEN THE WORDS ARE TAKEN IN THEIR ORDINARY SENSE, IT WOULD BE GOING A GREAT WAY TO SAY THAT A CONSTRAINED INTERPRETATION MUST BE PUT UPON THEM, TO AVOID AN INCONVENIENCE WHICH OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN CONTEMPLATED IN THE LEGISLATURE WHEN THE ACT WAS PASSED, AND WHICH, IN THEIR OPINION, WAS PROBABLY OVERBALANCED BY THE PARTICULAR ADVANTAGES IT WAS CALCULATED TO PRODUCE.

IN EVANS V. JORDAN, 9 CRANCH 199, 203, THE COURT SAID:

THE LEGISLATURE MIGHT HAVE PROCEEDED STILL FURTHER, BY PROVIDING A SHIELD FOR PERSONS STANDING IN THE SITUATION OF THESE DEFENDANTS. IT IS BELIEVED THAT THE REASONABLENESS OF SUCH A PROVISION COULD HAVE BEEN QUESTIONED BY NO ONE. BUT THE LEGISLATURE HAVE NOT THOUGHT PROPER TO EXTEND THE PROTECTION OF THESE PROVISOS BEYOND THE ISSUING OF THE PATENT UNDER THE LAW, AND THIS COURT WOULD TRANSGRESS THE LIMITS OF JUDICIAL POWER BY AN ATTEMPT TO SUPPLY, BY CONSTRUCTION, THIS SUPPOSED OMISSION OF THE LEGISLATURE. THE ARGUMENT, FOUNDED UPON THE HARDSHIP OF THIS AND SIMILAR CASES, WOULD BE ENTITLED TO GREAT WEIGHT, IF THE WORDS OF THIS PROVISO WERE OBSCURE AND OPEN TO CONSTRUCTION. BUT CONSIDERATIONS OF THIS NATURE CAN NEVER SANCTION A CONSTRUCTION AT VARIANCE WITH THE MANIFEST MEANING OF THE LEGISLATURE, EXPRESSED IN PLAIN AND UNAMBIGUOUS LANGUAGE.

IN THE CHEROKEE TOBACCO, 11 WALL. 616, 620, IT WAS SAID:

* * * THE LANGUAGE OF THE SECTION IS AS CLEAR AND EXPLICIT AS COULD BE EMPLOYED. IT EMBRACES INDISPUTABLY THE INDIAN TERRITORIES. CONGRESS NOT HAVING THOUGHT PROPER TO EXCLUDE THEM, IT IS NOT FOR THIS COURT TO MAKE THE EXCEPTION. IF THE EXEMPTION HAD BEEN INTENDED IT WOULD DOUBTLESS HAVE BEEN EXPRESSED. THERE BEING NO AMBIGUITY, THERE IS NO ROOM FOR CONSTRUCTION. IT WOULD BE OUT OF PLACE* ( UNITED STATES V. WILTBERGER, 5 WHEATON, 95). THE SECTION MUST BE HELD TO MEAN WHAT THE LANGUAGE IMPORTS. WHEN A STATUTE IS CLEAR AND IMPERATIVE, REASONING AB INCONVENIENT IS OF NO AVAIL. IT IS THE DUTY OF COURTS TO EXECUTE IT. ( MIREHOUSE V. RENNEL, 1 CLARK AND FINALLY, 527; WOLFF V. KOPPEL, 2 DENIO, 372). FURTHER DISCUSSION OF THE SUBJECT IS UNNECESSARY. WE THINK IT WOULD BE LIKE TRYING TO PROVE A SELF-EVIDENT TRUTH. THE EFFORT MAY CONFUSE AND OBSCURE BUT CANNOT ENLIGHTEN. IT NEVER STRENGTHENS THE PREEXISTING CONVICTION.

IN CAMINETTI V. UNITED STATES, 242 U.S. 470, 485, THE COURT SAID:

IT IS ELEMENTARY THAT THE MEANING OF A STATUTE MUST, IN THE FIRST INSTANCE, BE SOUGHT IN THE LANGUAGE IN WHICH THE ACT IS FRAMED, AND IF THAT IS PLAIN, AND IF THE LAW IS WITHIN THE CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY OF THE LAW-MAKING BODY WHICH PASSED IT, THE SOLE FUNCTION OF THE COURTS IS TO ENFORCE IT ACCORDING TO ITS TERMS. LAKE COUNTY V. ROLLINS, 130 U.S. 662, 670, 671; BATE REFRIGERATING CO. V. SULZBERGER, 157 U.S. 1, 33; UNITED STATES V. LEXINGTON MILL AND ELEVATOR CO., 232 U.S. 399, 409; UNITED STATES V. BANK, 234 U.S. 245, 258.

WHERE THE LANGUAGE IS PLAIN AND ADMITS OF NO MORE THAN ONE MEANING THE DUTY OF INTERPRETATION DOES NOT ARISE AND THE RULES WHICH ARE TO AID DOUBTFUL MEANINGS NEEDS NO DISCUSSION. HAMILTON V. RATHBONE, 175 U.S. 414, 421. * * *

STATUTORY WORDS ARE UNIFORMLY PRESUMED, UNLESS THE CONTRARY APPEARS, TO BE USED IN THEIR ORDINARY AND USUAL SENSE, AND WITH THE MEANING COMMONLY ATTRIBUTED TO THEM.

IN CROOKS V. HARRELSON, 282 U.S. 55, 59, THE COURT SAID:

IT IS URGED, HOWEVER, THAT IF THE LITERAL MEANING OF THE STATUTE BE AS INDICATED ABOVE, THAT MEANING SHOULD BE REJECTED AS LEADING TO ABSURD RESULTS, AND A CONSTRUCTION ADOPTED IN HARMONY WITH WHAT IS THOUGHT TO BE THE SPIRIT AND PURPOSE OF THE ACT IN ORDER TO GIVE EFFECT TO THE INTENT OF CONGRESS. THE PRINCIPLE SOUGHT TO BE APPLIED IS THAT FOLLOWED BY THIS COURT IN HOLY TRINITY CHURCH V. UNITED STATES, 143 U.S. 457; BUT A CONSIDERATION OF WHAT IS THERE SAID WILL DISCLOSE THAT THE PRINCIPLE IS TO BE APPLIED TO OVERRIDE THE LITERAL TERMS OF A STATUTE ONLY UNDER RARE AND EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES. THE ILLUSTRATIVE CASES CITED IN THE OPINION DEMONSTRATE THAT TO JUSTIFY A DEPARTURE FROM THE LETTER OF THE LAW UPON THAT GROUND, THE ABSURDITY MUST BE SO GROSS AS TO SHOCK THE GENERAL MORAL OR COMMON SENSE. COMPARE PIRIE V. CHICAGO TITLE AND TRUST COMPANY, 182 U.S. 438, 451 452. AND THERE MUST BE SOMETHING TO MAKE PLAIN THE INTENT OF CONGRESS THAT THE LETTER OF THE STATUTE IS NOT TO PREVAIL. TREAT V. WHITE, 181 U.S. 264, 268.

COURTS HAVE SOMETIMES EXERCISED A HIGH DEGREE OF INGENUITY IN THE EFFORT TO FIND JUSTIFICATION FOR WRENCHING FROM THE WORDS OF A STATUTE A MEANING WHICH LITERALLY THEY DID NOT BEAR IN ORDER TO ESCAPE CONSEQUENCES THOUGHT TO BE ABSURD OR TO ENTAIL GREAT HARDSHIP. BUT AN APPLICATION OF THE PRINCIPLE SO NEARLY APPROACHES THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE EXERCISE OF THE JUDICIAL POWER AND THAT OF THE LEGISLATIVE POWER AS TO CALL RATHER FOR GREAT CAUTION AND CIRCUMSPECTION IN ORDER TO AVOID USURPATION OF THE LATTER. MONSON V. CHESTER, 22 PICK. 385, 387. IT IS NOT ENOUGH MERELY THAT HARD AND OBJECTIONABLE OR ABSURD CONSEQUENCES, WHICH PROBABLY WERE NOT WITHIN THE CONTEMPLATION OF THE FRAMERS, ARE PRODUCED BY AN ACT OF LEGISLATION. LAWS ENACTED WITH GOOD INTENTION, WHEN PUT TO THE TEST, FREQUENTLY, AND TO THE SURPRISE OF THE LAWMAKER HIMSELF, TURN OUT TO BE MISCHIEVOUS, ABSURD, OR OTHERWISE OBJECTIONABLE. BUT IN SUCH CASE THE REMEDY LIES WITH THE LAWMAKING AUTHORITY, AND NOT WITH THE COURTS. SEE IN RE ALMA SPINNING COMPANY, L.R. 16 CH. DIV. 681, 686; KING V. COMMISSIONERS, 5 A. AND E. 804, 816; ABLEY V. DALE, L.J. (1851) N.S. PT. 2, VOL. 20, 233, 235. AND SEE GENERALLY CHUNG FOOK V. WHITE, 264 U.S. 443, 445; COMMR. OF IMMIGRATION V. GOTTLIEB, 265 U.S. 310, 313.

THERE APPEARS NO JUSTIFICATION FOR DEPARTURE FROM THESE PRINCIPLES IN THE PRESENT MATTER. THE STRICT MAINTENANCE OF THE CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM OF CHECKS AND BALANCES INHERENT IN THE FUNDAMENTAL DIVISION OF GOVERNMENTAL POWERS BETWEEN THE LEGISLATIVE, EXECUTIVE, AND JUDICIAL BRANCHES IS OF VASTLY MORE IMPORTANCE, OF COURSE, THAN THE TEMPORARY ADVANTAGE WHICH MIGHT BE GAINED IN PARTICULAR CASES BY A STRAINED ADMINISTRATIVE INTERPRETATION OF THE PLAIN TERMS OF A STATUTE TO ACCOMMODATE THEM TO AN EXCEPTIONAL SITUATION. IF AN EXTENSION OF THE STATUTORY TIME LIMITATION IN THE CASE OF THE SQUALUS IS DEEMED NECESSARY OR WARRANTED, IT SHOULD NOT BE A DIFFICULT MATTER FOR THE CONGRESS WHICH IS NOW IN SESSION TO SO PROVIDE PRIOR TO THE EXPIRATION OF THE 12-MONTH PERIOD APPLICABLE TO SAID VESSEL UNDER EXISTING LAW.

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION SPECIFICALLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE SQUALUS HAVING BEEN FIRST COMMISSIONED MARCH 1, 1939, THE STATUTORY TIME LIMITATION FOR OBLIGATING THE CITED REPLACEMENT APPROPRIATIONS FOR EXPENDITURES IN CONNECTION WITH SAID VESSEL WILL EXPIRE MARCH 1, 1940.