Letter from Webster Davis to the Commissioner of Pensions, Ca. February 28, 1898

The Commissioner of Pensions.

Sir:

The appellant was a pensioner under the general law as the widow of Harrison Hodges, late of Co. A, 11 United States Colored Infantry, but was dropped from the rolls, November 20, 1893, on the ground that she had been guilty of open and notorious adulterous cohabitation since the passage of the act of August 7, 1882.

An appeal therefrom was entered June 12, 1897, and on the 16th day of September I affirmed the rejection, holding that the evidence showed conclusively that she had been guilty of open and notorious adulterous cohabitation since the passage of the act of August 7, 1882.

This motion for reconsideration was entered October 25, 1897, the appellant contending that her pension was a vested right, and that a subsequent act of Congress could not divest her of that right. She admits however that the Supreme Court of the United States has held in several cases, that a pension was a mere gratuity but in her opinion the Supreme Court of the United States was wrong, and that this Department should so decide.

It is not within the province of this Department to review the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States, nor to pass upon the constitutionality of the acts of Congress, hence the request must be denied.

The act of August 7, 1882 declares upon what conditions a widow's pension shall be terminated, and the conditions herein described have been clearly shown by the evidence in this case.

Motion overruled.

Very respectfully,

Webster Davis
Assistant Secretary.