MR. JUSTICE PECKHAM, after stating the facts, delivered the opinion of the court.
Passing the various objections made to the maintenance of this suit on account of an alleged defect of parties, and also in regard to the character in which the complainant sues, merely that of a citizen and taxpayer of the United States and a resident of the District of Columbia, we come to the main question as to the validity of the agreement between the Commissioners of the District and the directors of the hospital, founded upon the appropriation contained in the act of Congress, the contention being that the agreement if carried out would result in an appropriation by Congress of money to a religious society, thereby violating the constitutional provision which forbids Congress from passing any law respecting an establishment of religion. Art. I of the Amendments to Constitution.
The appropriation is to be found in the general appropriation act for the government of the District of Columbia, approved March 3, 1897, c. 387, 29 Stat. 665, 679. It reads: "For two isolating buildings, to be constructed, in the discretion of the Commissioners of the District of Columbia, on the grounds of two hospitals, and to be operated as a part of such hospitals, thirty thousand dollars." Acting under the
As the bill alleges that Providence Hospital was incorporated by an act of Congress, approved April 8, 1864, c. 50, 13 Stat. 43, and assumes to give some of its provisions, the act thus referred to is substantially made a part of the bill, and it is therefore set forth in the margin.
The act shows that the individuals named therein and their successors in office were incorporated under the name of "The Directors of Providence Hospital," with power to
If we were to assume, for the purpose of this question only, that under this appropriation an agreement with a religious corporation of the tenor of this agreement would be invalid, as resulting indirectly in the passage of an act respecting an establishment of religion, we are unable to see that the complainant in his bill shows that the corporation is of the kind described, but on the contrary he has clearly shown that it is not.
The above-mentioned allegations in the complainant's bill do not change the legal character of the corporation or render it on that account a religious or sectarian body. Assuming
It is not contended that Congress has no power in the District to appropriate money for the purpose expressed in the appropriation, and it is not doubted that it has power to authorize the Commissioners of the District of Columbia to enter into a contract with the trustees of an incorporated hospital for the purposes mentioned in the agreement in this case, and the only objection set up is the alleged "sectarian character of the hospital and the specific and limited object of its creation."
The other allegations in complainant's bill are simply statements of his opinion in regard to the results necessarily flowing from the appropriation in question when connected with the agreement mentioned.
The act of Congress, however, shows there is nothing sectarian in the corporation, and "the specific and limited object of its creation" is the opening and keeping a hospital in the city of Washington for the care of such sick and invalid persons as
The right reserved in the third section of the charter to amend, alter or repeal the act leaves full power in Congress to remedy any abuse of the charter privileges.
Without adverting to any other objections to the maintenance of this suit, it is plain that complainant wholly fails to set forth a cause of action, and the bill was properly dismissed by the Court of Appeals, and its decree will, therefore, be
An Act to incorporate Providence Hospital of the City of Washington, District of Columbia.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That Lucy Gwynn, Teresa Angela Costello, Sarah McDonald, Mary E. Spalding and Mary Carroll, and their successors in office, are hereby made, declared and constituted a corporation and body politic, in law and in fact, under the name and style of the directors of Providence Hospital, and by that name they shall be and are hereby made capable in law to sue and be sued, to plead and be impleaded, in any court within the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia; to have and use a common seal, and to alter or amend the same at pleasure; to have, purchase, receive, possess and enjoy any estate in lands, tenements, annuities, goods, chattels, moneys or effects, and to grant, devise or dispose of the same in such manner as they may deem most for the interest of the hospital: Provided, That the real estate held by said corporation shall not exceed in value the sum of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That the said corporation and body politic shall have full power to appoint from their own body a president and such other officers as they may deem necessary for the purposes of their creation; and in case of the death, resignation or refusal to serve, of any of their number, the remaining members shall elect and appoint other persons in lien of those whose places may have been vacated; and the said corporation shall have full power and all the rights of opening and keeping a hospital in the city of Washington for the care of such sick and invalid persons as may place themselves under the treatment and care of the said corporation.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That the said corporation shall also have and enjoy full power and authority to make such by-laws, rules and regulations, as may be necessary for the general accomplishment of the objects of said hospital: Provided, That they be not inconsistent with the laws in force in the District of Columbia: And provided, further, That this act shall be liable to be amended, altered or repealed, at the pleasure of Congress.