April 15, 1931, respondent brought this suit in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia against the Alien Property Custodian and the Treasurer of the United States. Petitioners are their successors in office and as such have been substituted in their official capacities for the original defendants. Respondent is a corporation organized under the laws of Germany and at the time of the war between the United States and that country was there engaged in the manufacture and sale of chemicals, etc. It owned property in the United States including shares of stock in American corporations doing like business. Another German corporation, Holzverkoh-lungs-Industrie Aktiengesellschaft, was then similarly engaged and it also owned property in the United States including shares in one of the American corporations. Pursuant to the Trading with the Enemy Act, 40 Stat. 411, the Custodian seized the shares and other property in this country respectively belonging to these alien enemies. In July, 1930, respondent acquired all the assets of the other German corporation.
Section 24 of the Trading with the Enemy Act
The amended bill alleges, inter alia, the facts above stated and prays an accounting and judgment for the amount so withheld by the Custodian. Defendant interposed
March 28, 1934, shortly after this writ was granted, Congress passed an Act
This amendment was intended to forbid, and it is broad enough to cover, the commencement or maintenance of suits such as this. If valid, it requires the decree below to be reversed and the bill to be dismissed. The moneys sued for are a part of proceeds of property that was taken by the Custodian from respondent and the other German corporation. The Trading with the Enemy Act was passed by Congress in the exertion of the war power; its purpose was to weaken enemies by diminishing the sources from which they could obtain aid, and to strengthen this country by adding to resources for the successful prosecution of the war. Section 12 declares that after the end of the war any claim of any enemy to recover money or property received and held by the
The original Act, coupled with the later Acts of March 4, 1923, and May 16, 1928, plainly discloses a reservation to Congress of power to appropriate the property seized or its proceeds, as far as might be deemed necessary, to the payment of expenses incurred in the seizure and subsequent administration. The funds here in question are proceeds which were deducted for that purpose when payments were made from time to time to the enemy owner. As respects property or proceeds so retained by the Custodian there is no room to doubt that Congress had full power to cause it to be applied to the payment of such expenses. And, of course, Congress had ample power to ratify deductions made by the Custodian to cover such expenses. This is in effect what was done by the Act of March 28, 1934. True, it forbade the commencement or maintenance of a suit to recover funds so deducted, but this merely reflects and emphasizes the purpose to sanction and ratify the deductions by the Custodian, and in such circumstances does not deprive the respondent of any vested interest.
It follows that the Act of March 28, 1934, infringes no constitutional right of respondent. The decree of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the cause remanded to