United States v. Hohri
Decided on June 1, 1987; 482 US 64


I. ISSUES II. CASE SUMMARY III. AMICI CURIAE IV. DECISION V. WIN OR LOSS?
I. ISSUES:

A. Issues Discussed: Civil Rights (race), legal jurisdiction, 14th Amendment

B. Legal Question Presented:

Which court - the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit or the appropriate regional Court of Appeals - has jurisdiction over an appeal from a Federal District Court's decision of a case raising both a nontax claim under the Little Tucker Act and a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)?

II. CASE SUMMARY:

A. Background:

During World War II, the Government of the United States (Petitioner) removed approximately 120,000 Japanese-Americans from their homes and placed them in internment camps. Respondents, a group of former camp internees and their representatives filed suit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking damages and declaratory relief for injuries suffered due to this incident. Jurisdiction was based on the Little Tucker Act and the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). The District Court concluded that all claims were barred either by sovereign immunity or the applicable statute of limitations.

Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. That court reversed the District Court's dismissal of certain claims under the Little Tucker Act. However, it concluded that Congress did not intend the Federal Circuit to hear appeals of such cases. A petition for rehearing en banc was denied by a 6-to-5 vote.

Because of the potentially broad impact of the Court of Appeals' decision, the United States Supreme Court granted the Government's petition for a writ of certiorari.

B. Counsel of Record:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Benjamin L. Zelenko argued the cause for the respondents. With him on the brief were Wallace M. Cohen, B. Michael Rauh, Ellen Godbey Carson, and Martin Shulman. Solicitor General Fried argued the cause for the United States. With him on the briefs were Assistant Attorney General Willard, Deputy Solicitor General Ayer, Roy T. Englert, Jr., Barbara L. Herwig, and Jay S. Bybee.
C. The Arguments:
ACLU Side
 
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Unavailable Unavailable
III. AMICI CURIAE:
ACLU Side
(Respondent/Appellee)
Opposing Side
(Petitioner/Appellant)
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the State of California et al. by John K. Van de Kamp, Attorney General of California; Warren Price III, Attorney General of Hawaii; Corinne K. A. Watanabe, First Deputy Attorney General; Steven S. Michaels, Deputy Attorney General; and for the American Friends Service Committee et al. by David Kairys.

Additional briefs of amici curiae were filed for the American Civil Liberties Union et al. by Fred Okrand, Paul L. Hoffman, and Dougas E. Mirell; and for Fred Korematsu et al. by Dale Minami, Peggy Nagae, and Ruti G. Teitel.
No amici curiae briefs were filed on behalf of the Petitioner.
IV. THE SUPREME COURT'S DECISION:

"[T]he Federal Circuit has exclusive appellate jurisdiction of a case raising only a nontax claim under the Little Tucker Act... the appropriate regional Court of Appeals... has exclusive appellate jurisdiction of a case raising only a claim under the FTCA.  This case presents claims under both the Little Tucker Act and the FTCA… not specifically addressed by § 1295(a)(2). Resolution of this problem turns on interpretation of the second clause of this subsection, the so-called 'except clause...' [T]he except clause was directed at cases raising only one claim; it strains the language to apply the except clause to cases raising multiple claims, some within and some not within the except clause...

Congress intended for centralized determination of nontax Little Tucker Act claims to predominate over regional adjudication of FTCA claims... [A] mixed case, presenting both a nontax Little Tucker Act claim and an FTCA claim, may be appealed only to the Federal Circuit.

Held: The judgment of the Court of Appeals vacated, with order to remand the case and with instructions to transfer the case to the Federal Circuit."

Justice Vote: 0 Pro vs. 8 Con

  • Powell, L. Con  (Wrote majority opinion)
  • White, B.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • O’Connor, S.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Rehnquist, W.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Brennan, W.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Stevens, J.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Marshall, T.  Con  (Joined majority opinion)
  • Blackmun, H.  Con  (Filed concurring opinion)
  • Scalia, A. - Took no part in the decision making process
  • V. A WIN OR LOSS FOR THE ACLU?

    The ACLU filed as amicus curiae urging affirmance; the United States Supreme Court vacated and remanded the ruling in a 8-0 vote, giving the ACLU an apparent loss.