Title 38 U. S. C. § 3404(c) limits to $10 the fee that may be paid an attorney or agent who represents a veteran seeking benefits for service-connected death or disability. The United States District Court for the Northern District of California held that this limit violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment, and the First Amendment, because it denies veterans or their survivors the opportunity to retain counsel of their choice in pursuing their claims. We noted probable jurisdiction of the Government's appeal, 469 U.S. 1085 (1984), and we now reverse.
Congress has by statute established an administrative system for granting service-connected death or disability benefits to veterans. See 38 U. S. C. § 301 et seq. The amount of the benefit award is not based upon need, but upon service connection — that is, whether the disability is causally related to an injury sustained in the service — and the degree of incapacity caused by the disability. A detailed system has been established by statute and Veterans' Administration (VA) regulation for determining a veteran's entitlement, with final authority resting with an administrative body known as the Board of Veterans' Appeals (BVA). Judicial review of VA decisions is precluded by statute. 38 U. S. C. § 211(a); Johnson v. Robison, 415 U.S. 361 (1974). The controversy in this case centers on the opportunity for a benefit applicant
Section 3405 provides criminal penalties for any person who charges fees in excess of the limitation of § 3404.
Appellees here are two veterans' organizations, three individual veterans, and a veteran's widow.
Appellees contended in the District Court that the fee limitation provision of § 3404 denied them any realistic opportunity to obtain legal representation in presenting their claims to the VA and hence violated their rights under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and under the First Amendment. The District Court agreed with the appellees on both of these grounds, and entered a nationwide "preliminary injunction" barring appellants from enforcing the fee limitation. 589 F.Supp. 1302 (1984). To understand fully the posture in which the case reaches us it is necessary to discuss the administrative scheme in some detail.
As might be expected in a system which processes such a large number of claims each year, the process prescribed by Congress for obtaining disability benefits does not contemplate the adversary mode of dispute resolution utilized by courts in this country. It is commenced by the submission of a claim form to the local veterans agency, which form is provided by the VA either upon request or upon receipt of notice of the death of a veteran. Upon application a claim generally is first reviewed by a three-person "rating board" of the VA regional office — consisting of a medical specialist, a legal specialist, and an "occupational specialist." A claimant is "entitled to a hearing at any time on any issue involved in a claim. . . ." 38 CFR § 3.103(c) (1984). Proceedings in front of the rating board "are ex parte in nature," § 3.103(a); no
After reviewing the evidence the board renders a decision either denying the claim or assigning a disability "rating" pursuant to detailed regulations developed for assessing various disabilities. Money benefits are calculated based on the rating. The claimant is notified of the board's decision and its reasons, and the claimant may then initiate an appeal by
The process is designed to function throughout with a high degree of informality and solicitude for the claimant. There is no statute of limitations, and a denial of benefits has no formal res judicata effect; a claimant may resubmit as long as he presents new facts not previously forwarded. See 38 CFR §§ 3.104, 3.105 (1984). Although there are time limits for submitting a notice of disagreement and although a claimant may prejudice his opportunity to challenge factual or legal decisions by failing to challenge them in that notice, the time limit is quite liberal — up to one year — and the VA boards are instructed to read any submission in the light most favorable to the claimant. See 38 CFR §§ 19.129, 19.124, 19.121 (1984). Perhaps more importantly for present purposes, however, various veterans' organizations across the country make available trained service agents, free of charge, to assist claimants in developing and presenting their claims. These service representatives are contemplated by the VA statute, 38 U. S. C. § 3402, and they are recognized as an important part of the administrative scheme. Appellees' counsel agreed at argument that a representative is available for
In support of their claim that the present statutory and administrative scheme violates the Constitution, appellees submitted affidavits and declarations of 16 rejected claimants or recipients and 24 practicing attorneys, depositions of several VA employees, and various exhibits. The District Court held a hearing and then issued a 52-page opinion and order granting the requested "preliminary injunction."
With respect to the merits of appellees' due process claim, the District Court first determined that recipients of service-connected death and disability benefits possess "property" interests protected by the Due Process Clause, see Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976) (recipients of Social Security benefits possess a protected "property" interest), and also held that applicants for such benefits possess such an interest. Although noting that this Court has never ruled on the latter question, the court relied on several opinions of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit holding, with respect to similar Government benefits, that applicants possess such an interest. See, e. g., Ressler v. Pierce, 692 F.2d 1212, 1214-1216 (1982) (applicants for federal rent subsidies).
The court then held that appellees had a strong likelihood of showing that the administrative scheme violated the due process rights of those entitled to benefits. In holding that the process described above was "fundamentally unfair," the court relied on the analysis developed by this Court in
In applying this test the District Court relied heavily on appellees' evidence; it noted that the veterans' interest in receiving benefits was significant in that many recipients are disabled, and totally or primarily dependent on benefits for their support. 589 F. Supp., at 1315. With respect to the likelihood of error under the present system, and the value of the additional safeguard of legal representation, it first noted that some of the appellees had been represented by service agents and had been dissatisfied with their representation, and had sought and failed to obtain legal counsel due solely to the fee limitation. The court found that absent expert legal counsel claimants ran a significant risk of forfeiting their rights, because of the highly complex issues involved in some cases. VA processes, the court reasoned, allow claimants to waive points of disagreement on appeal, or to waive appeal altogether by failing to file the notice of disagreement; in addition, claimants simply are not equipped to engage in the factual or legal development necessary in some cases, or to spot errors made by the administrative boards. Id., at 1319-1321.
With respect to whether the present process alleviated these problems, the court found that "neither the VA officials themselves nor the service organizations are providing the full array of services that paid attorneys might make available
In reaching its conclusions the court relied heavily on the problems presented by what it described as "complex cases" — a class of cases also focused on in the depositions. Though never expressly defined by the District Court, these cases apparently include those in which a disability is slow developing and therefore difficult to find service connected, such as the claims associated with exposure to radiation or harmful chemicals, as well as other cases identified by the deponents as involving difficult matters of medical judgment. Nowhere in the opinion of the District Court is there any estimate of what percentage of the annual VA caseload of 800,000 these cases comprise, nor is there any more precise description of the class. There is no question but what the 3 named plaintiffs and the plaintiff veteran's widow asserted such claims, and in addition there are declarations in the record from 12 other claimants who were asserting such claims. The evidence contained in the record, however, suggests that the sum total of such claims is extremely small; in 1982, for example, roughly 2% of the BVA caseload consisted of "agent orange" or "radiation" claims, and what evidence
With respect to the service representatives, the court again found the representation unsatisfactory. Although admitting that this was not due to any "lack of dedication," the court found that a heavy caseload and the lack of legal training combined to prevent service representatives from adequately researching a claim. Facts are not developed, and "it is standard practice for service organization representatives to submit merely a one to two page handwritten brief." Id., at 1322.
Based on the inability of the VA and service organizations to provide the full range of services that a retained attorney might, the court concluded that appellees had demonstrated a "high risk of erroneous deprivation" from the process as administered. Ibid. The court then found that the Government had "failed to demonstrate that it would suffer any harm if the statutory fee limitation . . . were lifted." Id., at 1323. The only Government interest suggested was the "paternalistic" assertion that the fee limitation is necessary to ensure that claimants do not turn substantial portions of their benefits over to unscrupulous lawyers. The court suggested that there were "less drastic means" to confront this problem.
Finally, the court agreed with appellees that there was a substantial likelihood that the fee limitation also violates the First Amendment. The court relied on this Court's decisions in Mine Workers v. Illinois Bar Assn., 389 U.S. 217 (1967), and Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Virginia State Bar, 377 U.S. 1 (1964), as establishing "the principle that the First Amendment rights to petition, association and speech protect efforts by organizations and individuals to obtain effective legal representation of their constituents or themselves." 589 F. Supp., at 1324. This right to "adequate legal representation" or "meaningful access to courts," the court found, was infringed by the fee limitation — again
After reiterating the Government's failure of proof with respect to the likely harms arising from doing away with the fee limitation, the court entered a "preliminary injunction" enjoining the Government appellants from "enforcing or attempting to enforce in any way the provisions of 38 U. S. C. §§ 3404-3405 . . . ." Id., at 1329. The injunction was not limited to the particular plaintiffs, nor was it limited to claims processed in the District of Northern California, where the court sits.
Before proceeding to the merits we must deal with a significant question as to our jurisdiction, one not raised by appellees in this Court. This appeal was taken under 28 U. S. C. § 1252, which grants this Court jurisdiction "from an interlocutory or final judgment, decree or order of any court of the United States . . . holding an Act of Congress unconstitutional in any civil action . . . to which the United States or any of its agencies, or any officer or employee thereof, as such officer or employee, is a party." We have here an interlocutory decree in a civil action to which an officer of the United States is a party, and the only question is whether the District Court's decision "holds" an Act of Congress unconstitutional. The problem, of course, is that given that the court's opinion and order are cast in terms of a "preliminary injunction" the court only states that there is a "high likelihood of success" on the merits of appellees' claims, and does not specifically state that the fee limitation provision is unconstitutional.
We do not write on a clean slate. In McLucas v. DeChamplain, 421 U.S. 21 (1975), this Court similarly entertained an appeal from an order that granted a preliminary injunction and in the process held an Act of Congress unconstitutional. In holding that we had jurisdiction under § 1252 we noted that that section constitutes an "exception" to "the
We think this case is controlled by McLucas. It is true that in McLucas the District Court actually stated its holding that the statute was unconstitutional, whereas here the court's statements are less direct. But that is merely a semantic difference in this case; inasmuch as any conclusions reached at the preliminary injunction stage are subject to revision, University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 395 (1981), it should make little difference whether the court stated conclusively that a statute was unconstitutional, or merely said it was likely, so long as the injunction granted enjoined the statute's operation. This Court's appellate jurisdiction does not turn on such semantic niceties. See also California v. Grace Brethren Church, 457 U.S. 393, 405 (1982) ("§ 1252 provides jurisdiction even though the lower court did not expressly declare a federal statute unconstitutional. . .").
Indeed, we note that the problem raised by the statute's use of the word "holding" may in any event be a bit of a red herring. In its original form § 1252 provided this Court with appellate jurisdiction over decisions "against the constitutionality of any Act of Congress," see Act of Aug. 24, 1937,
Finally, acceptance of appellate jurisdiction in this case is in accord with the purpose of the statutory grant. Last Term, in Heckler v. Edwards, 465 U.S. 870 (1984), we discussed § 1252's legislative history. We noted that in enacting § 1252 Congress sought to identify a category of important decisions adverse to the constitutionality of an Act of Congress — which decisions, because the United States or its agent was a party, had implications beyond the controversy then before the court — and to provide an expeditious means for ensuring certainty and uniformity in the enforcement of such an Act by establishing direct review over such decisions in this Court. Id., at 879-883. Edwards teaches that the decisions Congress targeted for appeal under § 1252 were those which involved the exercise of judicial power to impair the enforcement of an Act of Congress on constitutional grounds, and that it was the constitutional question that Congress wished this Court to decide. As we pointed out in McLucas,
Judging the constitutionality of an Act of Congress is properly considered " `the gravest and most delicate duty that this Court is called upon to perform,' " Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 64 (1981) (quoting Blodgett v. Holden, 275 U.S. 142, 148 (1927) (Holmes, J.)), and we begin our analysis here with no less deference than we customarily must pay to the duly enacted and carefully considered decision of a coequal and representative branch of our Government. Indeed one might think, if anything, that more deference is called for here; the statute in question for all relevant purposes has been on the books for over 120 years. Cf. McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 401-402 (1819). This deference to congressional judgment must be afforded even though the
Appellees' first claim, accepted by the District Court, is that the statutory fee limitation, as it bears on the administrative scheme in operation, deprives a rejected claimant or recipient of "life, liberty or property, without due process of law," U. S. Const., Amdt. 5, by depriving him of representation by expert legal counsel.
These general principles are reflected in the test set out in Mathews, which test the District Court purported to follow, and which requires a court to consider the private interest that will be affected by the official action, the risk of an erroneous deprivation of such interest through the procedures used, the probable value of additional or substitute procedural safeguards, and the government's interest in adhering to the existing system. Id., at 335. In applying this test we must keep in mind, in addition to the deference owed to Congress, the fact that the very nature of the due process inquiry indicates that the fundamental fairness of a particular procedure does not turn on the result obtained in any individual case; rather, "procedural due process rules are shaped by the risk of error inherent in the truth-finding process as applied to the generality of cases, not the rare exceptions." Id., at 344; see also Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 612-613 (1979).
The Government interest, which has been articulated in congressional debates since the fee limitation was first enacted in 1862 during the Civil War, has been this: that the system for administering benefits should be managed in a sufficiently informal way that there should be no need for the employment of an attorney to obtain benefits to which a claimant was entitled, so that the claimant would receive the entirety of the award without having to divide it with a lawyer. See United States v. Hall, 98 U.S. 343, 352-355 (1879). This purpose is reinforced by a similar absolute prohibition on compensation of any service organization representative.
In the face of this congressional commitment to the fee limitation for more than a century, the District Court had only this to say with respect to the governmental interest:
It is not for the District Court or any other federal court to invalidate a federal statute by so cavalierly dismissing a long-asserted congressional purpose. If "paternalism" is an insignificant Government interest, then Congress first went astray in 1792, when by its Act of March 23 of that year it prohibited the "sale, transfer or mortgage . . . of the pension. . . [of a] soldier . . . before the same shall become due." Ch. 11, § 6, 1 Stat. 245. Acts of Congress long on the books, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, might similarly be described as "paternalistic"; indeed, this Court once opined that "[s]tatutes of the nature of that under review, limiting the hours in which grown and intelligent men may labor to earn their living, are mere meddlesome interferences with the rights of the individual . . . ." Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, 61 (1905). That day is fortunately long gone, and with it the condemnation of rational paternalism as a legitimate legislative goal.
There can be little doubt that invalidation of the fee limitation would seriously frustrate the oft-repeated congressional purpose for enacting it. Attorneys would be freely employable by claimants to veterans' benefits, and the claimant would as a result end up paying part of the award, or its equivalent, to an attorney. But this would not be the only consequence of striking down the fee limitation that would be deleterious to the congressional plan.
A necessary concomitant of Congress' desire that a veteran not need a representative to assist him in making his claim was that the system should be as informal and nonadversarial as possible. This is not to say that complicated factual inquiries may be rendered simple by the expedient of informality, but surely Congress desired that the proceedings be as
We similarly noted in Wolff v. McDonnell, 418 U.S. 539, 570 (1974), that the use of counsel in prison disciplinary proceedings would "inevitably give the proceedings a more adversary cast . . . ."
Knowledgeable and thoughtful observers have made the same point in other language:
Thus, even apart from the frustration of Congress' principal goal of wanting the veteran to get the entirety of the award, the destruction of the fee limitation would bid fair to complicate a proceeding which Congress wished to keep as simple as possible. It is scarcely open to doubt that if claimants were permitted to retain compensated attorneys the day might come when it could be said that an attorney might indeed be necessary to present a claim properly in a system rendered more adversary and more complex by the very presence of lawyer representation. It is only a small step beyond that to the situation in which the claimant who has a factually simple and obviously deserving claim may nonetheless feel impelled to retain an attorney simply because so many other claimants retain attorneys. And this additional complexity will undoubtedly engender greater administrative costs, with the end result being that less Government money reaches its intended beneficiaries.
We accordingly conclude that under the Mathews v. Eldridge analysis great weight must be accorded to the Government interest at stake here. The flexibility of our approach in due process cases is intended in part to allow room for other forms of dispute resolution; with respect to the individual interests at stake here, legislatures are to be allowed considerable leeway to formulate such processes without being forced to conform to a rigid constitutional code of procedural necessities. See Parham v. J. R., 442 U. S., at 608, n. 16. It would take an extraordinarily strong showing of probability of error under the present system — and the probability that the presence of attorneys would sharply diminish that possibility — to warrant a holding that the fee limitation denies claimants due process of law. We have no hesitation in deciding that no such showing was made out on the record before the District Court.
Passing the problems with quantifying the likelihood of an erroneous deprivation, however, under Mathews we must also ask what value the proposed additional procedure may have in reducing such error. In this case we are fortunate to have statistics that bear directly on this question, which statistics were addressed by the District Court. These unchallenged statistics chronicle the success rates before the BVA depending on the type of representation of the claimant, and are summarized in the following figures taken from the record. App. 568.
ULTIMATE SUCCESS RATES BEFORE THE BOARD OF VETERANS' APPEALS BY MODE OF REPRESENTATION
American Legion ....................... 16.2% American Red Cross .................... 16.8% Disabled American Veterans ............ 16.6% Veterans of Foreign Wars .............. 16.7% Other nonattorney ..................... 15.8% No representation ..................... 15.2% Attorney/Agent ........................ 18.3%
We think the District Court's analysis of this issue totally unconvincing, and quite lacking in the deference which ought to be shown by any federal court in evaluating the constitutionality of an Act of Congress. We have the most serious doubt whether a competent lawyer taking a veteran's case on a pro bono basis would give less than his best effort, and we see no reason why experience in developing facts as to causation in the numerous other areas of the law where it is relevant would not be readily transferable to proceedings before the VA. Nor do we think that lawyers' success rates in proceedings before military boards to upgrade discharges — proceedings which are not even conducted before the VA, but before military boards of the uniformed services — are to be preferred to the BVA statistics which show reliable success by mode of representation in the very type of proceeding to which the litigation is devoted.
The District Court also concluded, apparently independently of its ill-founded analysis of the claim statistics, (1) that the VA processes are procedurally, factually, and legally complex, and (2) that the VA system presently does not work as designed, particularly in terms of the representation afforded by VA personnel and service representatives, and that these representatives are "unable to perform all of the services which might be performed by a claimant's own
The District Court's opinion is similarly short on definition or quantification of "complex" cases. If this term be understood to include all cases in which the claimant asserts injury from exposure to radiation or agent orange, only approximately 3 in 1,000 of the claims at the regional level and 2% of the appeals to the BVA involve such claims. Nor does it appear that all such claims would be complex by any fair definition of that term: at least 25% of all agent orange cases and 30% of the radiation cases, for example, are disposed of because the medical examination reveals no disability. What evidence does appear in the record indicates that the great
The District Court's treatment of the likely usefulness of attorneys is on the same plane with its efforts to quantify the likelihood of error under the present system. The court states several times in its opinion that lawyers could provide more services than claimants presently receive — a fact which may freely be conceded — but does not suggest how the availability of these services would reduce the likelihood of error in the run-of-the-mine case. Simple factual questions are capable of resolution in a nonadversarial context, and it is less than crystal clear why lawyers must be available to identify possible errors in medical judgment. Cf. Parham v. J. R., 442 U. S., at 609-612. The availability of particular lawyers' services in so-called "complex" cases might be more of a factor in preventing error in such cases, but on this record we simply do not know how those cases should be defined or what percentage of all of the cases before the VA they make up. Even if the showing in the District Court had been much more favorable, appellees still would confront the constitutional hurdle posed by the principle enunciated in cases such as Mathews to the effect that a process must be judged by the generality of cases to which it applies, and therefore a process which is sufficient for the large majority of a group of claims is by constitutional definition sufficient for all of them. But here appellees have failed to make the very difficult factual showing necessary.
In cases such as Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973), we observed that counsel can aid in identifying legal questions and presenting arguments, and that one charged with probation violation may have a right to counsel because of the liberty interest involved. We have also concluded after weighing the Mathews factors that the right to appointed counsel in a case involving the threatened termination of parental rights depends upon the circumstances of each particular case, see Lassiter v. Department of Social Services of Durham County, 452 U.S. 18 (1981), while three of the dissenters thought the same balancing required appointment of counsel in all such cases. Id., at 35 (BLACKMUN, J., joined by BRENNAN and MARSHALL, JJ., dissenting).
But where, as here, the only interest protected by the Due Process Clause is a property interest in the continued receipt of Government benefits, which interest is conferred and terminated in a nonadversary proceeding, these precedents are of only tangential relevance. Appellees rely on Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970), in which the Court held that a welfare recipient subject to possible termination of benefits was entitled to be represented by an attorney. The Court said that "counsel can help delineate the issues, present the factual contentions in an orderly manner, conduct cross-examination, and generally safeguard the interests of the
We think that the benefits at stake in VA proceedings, which are not granted on the basis of need, are more akin to the Social Security benefits involved in Mathews than they are to the welfare payments upon which the recipients in Goldberg depended for their daily subsistence. Just as this factor was dispositive in Mathews in the Court's determination that no evidentiary hearing was required prior to a temporary deprivation of benefits, 424 U. S., at 342-343, so we think it is here determinative of the right to employ counsel. Indeed, there appears to have been no stated policy on the part of New York in Goldberg against permitting an applicant to divide up his welfare check with an attorney who had represented him in the proceeding; the procedures there simply prohibited personal appearance of the recipient with or without counsel and regardless of whether counsel was compensated, and in reaching its conclusion the Court relied on agency regulations allowing recipients to be represented by counsel under some circumstances. 424 U. S., at 342-343.
This case is further distinguishable from our prior decisions because the process here is not designed to operate adversarially. While counsel may well be needed to respond to opposing counsel or other forms of adversary in a trial-type proceeding, where as here no such adversary appears, and in addition a claimant or recipient is provided with substitute safeguards such as a competent representative, a decision-maker whose duty it is to aid the claimant, and significant concessions with respect to the claimant's burden of proof,
Thus none of our cases dealing with constitutionally required representation by counsel requires the conclusion reached by the District Court. Especially in light of the Government interests at stake, the evidence adduced before the District Court as to success rates in claims handled with or without lawyers shows no such great disparity as to warrant the inference that the congressional fee limitation under consideration here violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. What evidence we have been pointed to in the record regarding complex cases falls far short of the kind which would warrant upsetting Congress' judgment that this is the manner in which it wishes claims for veterans' benefits adjudicated. Schweiker v. McClure, 456 U.S. 188, 200 (1982); Mathews, 424 U. S., at 344, 349. The District Court abused its discretion in holding otherwise.
Finally, we must address appellees' suggestion that the fee limitation violates their First Amendment rights. Appellees claim that cases such as Mine Workers v. Illinois State Bar Assn., 389 U.S. 217 (1967), and Railroad Trainmen v. Virginia ex rel. Virginia State Bar, 377 U.S. 1 (1964), establish for individuals and organizations a right to ensure "meaningful access to courts" for themselves or their members, and that the District Court was correct in holding that this right was violated by the fee limitation. There are numerous conceptual difficulties with extending the cited cases to cover the situation here; for example, those cases involved the rights of unions and union members to retain or recommend counsel
But passing those problems, appellees' First Amendment arguments, at base, are really inseparable from their due process claims. The thrust is that they have been denied "meaningful access to the courts" to present their claims. This must be based in some notion that VA claimants, who presently are allowed to speak in court, and to have someone speak for them, also have a First Amendment right to pay their surrogate speaker;
I join the Court's opinion and its judgment because I agree that this Court has appellate jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. § 1252 and that the District Court abused its discretion in issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction against enforcement of the $10 fee limitation in 38 U. S. C. § 3404(c). I also agree that the record before us is insufficient to evaluate the claims of any individuals or identifiable groups. I write separately to note that such claims remain open on remand.
The grant of appellate jurisdiction under § 1252 does not give the Court license to depart from established standards of appellate review. This Court, like other appellate courts, has always applied the "abuse of discretion" standard on review of a preliminary injunction. See, e. g., Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 931-932 (1975). As the Court explains, direct appeal of a preliminary injunction under § 1252 is appropriate in the rare case such as this where a district court has issued a nationwide injunction that in practical effect invalidates a federal law. In such circumstances, § 1252 "assure[s] an expeditious means of affirming or removing the restraint on the Federal Government's administration of the law . . . ." Heckler v. Edwards, 465 U.S. 870, 882 (1984). See also id., at 881, nn. 15 and 16 (§ 1252 is closely tied to the need to speedily resolve injunctions preventing the effectuation of Acts of Congress). Contrary to the suggestion of JUSTICE BRENNAN, post, at 355, the Court fully effectuates the purpose of § 1252 by vacating the preliminary injunction which the District Court improperly issued. Since the District Court did not reach the merits, any cloud on the constitutionality of the $10 fee limitation that remains after today's decision is no greater than exists prior to judgment on the merits in any proceeding questioning a statute's constitutionality.
A preliminary injunction is only appropriate where there is a demonstrated likelihood of success on the merits. Doran
As the Court observes, the record also "is . . . short on definition or quantification of `complex' cases" which might constitute a "group" with respect to which the process provided is "[in]sufficient for the large majority." Ante, at 329, 330; Parham v. J. R., 442 U.S. 584, 617 (1979). The "determination of what process is due [may] var[y]" with regard to a group whose "situation differs" in important respects from the typical veterans' benefit claimant. Parham v. J. R., supra, at 617. Appellees' claims, however, are not framed as a class action nor were the lower court's findings and relief narrowly drawn to reach some discrete class of complex cases. In its present posture, this case affords no sound basis for carving out a subclass of complex claims that by their nature require expert assistance beyond the capabilities of service representatives to assure the veterans " `[a] hearing appropriate to the nature of the case.' " Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 378 (1971), quoting Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank & Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 313 (1950). Ante, at 329.
Nevertheless, it is my understanding that the Court, in reversing the lower court's preliminary injunction, does not determine the merits of the appellees' individual "as applied" claims. The complaint indicates that appellees challenged the fee limitation both on its face and as applied to them, and sought a ruling that they were entitled to a rehearing of claims processed without assistance of an attorney. I App. 39-42. Appellee Albert Maxwell, for example, alleges that
The merits of these claims are difficult to evaluate on the record of affidavits and depositions developed at the preliminary injunction stage. Though the Court concludes that denial of expert representation is not "per se unconstitutional," given the availability of service representatives to assist the veteran and the Veterans' Administration boards' emphasis on nonadversarial procedures, "[o]n remand, the District Court is free to and should consider any individual claims that [the procedures] did not meet the standards we have described in this opinion." Parham v. J. R., supra, at 616-617.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom JUSTICE MARSHALL joins, dissenting.
The Court today concludes that it has mandatory jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 1252 directly to review the District Court's entry of a preliminary injunction restraining the Government from enforcing the provisions of 38 U. S. C. §§ 3404 and 3405 pending a full trial on the merits of appellees' contention that those statutes violate the First and
I write separately, however, because I believe the Court's exercise of appellate jurisdiction in this case is not authorized by § 1252. Because the District Court's interlocutory order granting a preliminary injunction did not constitute a decision striking down the challenged statutes on constitutional grounds, appellate review of the propriety and scope of the preliminary injunction instead rests initially in the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit pursuant to 28 U. S. C. § 1292(a)(1), from which review in this Court could then be sought through a petition for a writ of certiorari. The Court's decision to the contrary is wholly inconsistent with the purpose and history of § 1252, well-established principles respecting interlocutory review of preliminary injunctions, and common sense.
The District Court did not hold that §§ 3404 and 3405 are unconstitutional either on their face or as applied. Instead, for purposes of considering the appellees' motion for a pretrial preliminary injunction pursuant to Rule 65 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, it found that appellees had
Contrary to the Court's assertion, there is much more than a "semantic difference" between a finding of likelihood of success sufficient to support preliminary relief and a final holding on the merits. Ante, at 317. Until today, the Court always has recognized that district court findings on "likelihood of success on the merits" are not "tantamount to decisions on the underlying merits"; the two are "significantly different." University of Texas v. Camenisch, 451 U.S. 390, 393-394 (1981). Preliminary injunctions are granted on the basis of a broad "balance of factors" determined through "procedures that are less formal and evidence that is less complete than in a trial on the merits," and the parties are accorded neither "a full opportunity to present their cases nor . . . a final judicial decision based on the actual merits of a controversy." Id., at 395-396 (emphasis added). District court orders granting preliminary injunctions may therefore be reviewed only on an abuse-of-discretion standard: an appellate court may conclude that the district court's preliminary relief sweeps too broadly, or is based on an improper balancing of hardships, or even that the likelihood of success has been overdrawn. See generally Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U.S. 922, 931-932 (1975); Brown v. Chote, 411 U.S. 452, 457 (1973). But under the abuse-of-discretion standard, appellate courts obviously may "intimate no view as to the ultimate merits" of the underlying controversy. Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., supra, at 934; Brown v. Chote, supra, at 457.
Section 1252 does not empower this Court directly to police the preliminary-injunctive process in the district courts. Instead, it was enacted to ensure the "prompt determination by the court of last resort of disputed questions of the constitutionality of acts of the Congress."
The Court argues, however, that because § 1252 explicitly grants jurisdiction to this Court "from an interlocutory or final judgment" of unconstitutionality, Congress surely intended to include preliminary injunctions granted on "likelihood of success" within the scope of § 1252. Ante, at 316-317, 318-319. The Court reinforces this argument by noting
Where the disputed decision "remains open, unfinished or inconclusive," on the other hand, it is well established that under §§ 1291 and 1292(a) "there may be no instrusion by appeal" of the unresolved issue.
This elementary distinction applies with direct force to appeals pursuant to § 1252.
On the other hand, we have never in the 48-year history of § 1252 assumed jurisdiction where the district court had done no more than simply determine that there was a "likelihood" of unconstitutionality sufficient to support temporary relief pending a final decision on the merits. Because such determinations
Moreover, the Court's reasoning sweeps both too narrowly and too broadly. It sweeps too narrowly because mandatory jurisdiction pursuant to § 1252 is not confined to district court decisions striking down statutes "across the country and under all circumstances." Ante, at 319. See also ante, at 336 (O'CONNOR, J., concurring). We have instead long recognized that § 1252 requires that we review decisions that simply invalidate challenged statutes even as applied only to particular individuals in particular circumstances.
One final consideration, based on the history of § 1252 and related provisions, sheds further light on the fallacy of the Court's jurisdictional reasoning. Section 1252 originally was enacted as § 2 of the Judiciary Act of 1937, 50 Stat. 752. Section 3 of that Act created the since-repealed three-judge district court provisions of 28 U. S. C. § 2282 (1970 ed.). Section 3 provided that "[n]o interlocutory or permanent injunction suspending or restraining the enforcement, operation, or execution of, or setting aside, in whole or in part, any Act of Congress" in cases challenging the constitutionality of the Act could be granted unless presented to and resolved by a three-judge district court. That section also contained its own built-in jurisdictional authorization for direct Supreme Court review of any "order, decree, or judgment" issued by
Second, when Congress repealed § 2282 in 1976
Congress thereby indicated its firm intention to leave monitoring of the equitable injunctive process to the courts of appeals in the first instance, and to reserve mandatory direct Supreme Court review for those cases in which this Court properly could resolve the underlying merits of the constitutional challenges themselves.
Although deciding that a direct appeal of this preliminary injunction is proper, the six Members of today's majority appear to be sharply divided over the nature of the issues before us and the proper scope of our authority on review. JUSTICE O'CONNOR, joined by JUSTICE BLACKMUN, eschews any attempt to resolve the underlying merits of the constitutional challenge. She properly recognizes that, because
The opinion for the Court appears to take a very different tack. To be sure, the Court notes two or three times that the District Court simply found a "likelihood" that the appellees
Having thus paved the way for its consideration of the constitutional merits, the Court then proceeds to "review" the District Court's "holding" in light of the record evidence and the three-part Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319 (1976), balancing test. The Court focuses on the Mathews factors of the risk of an erroneous decision through the current procedures and the probable value of additional safeguards. The Court rummages through the partially developed record and seizes upon scattered evidence introduced by the Government on the eve of the preliminary-injunction hearing — evidence that never has been tested in a trial on the merits — and pronounces that evidence "reliable" and compelling. See,
This brand of constitutional adjudication is extraordinary. Whereas JUSTICE O'CONNOR faithfully adheres to the limited role of appellate judges in reviewing preliminary injunctions and thereby departs from the purposes of § 1252, the opinion for the Court seizes upon the underlying purposes of § 1252 in order to evade the well-established rule prohibiting appellate courts from even purporting to "intimate . . . view[s]" on the ultimate merits when reviewing preliminary injunctions granted on likelihood of success. Doran v. Salem Inn, Inc., 422 U. S., at 934. If the opinion for the Court turns out to be more than an unfortunate aberration, it will threaten a fundamental transformation of the equitable process of granting preliminary relief in cases challenging the constitutionality of Government action.
I believe that § 1252 should have been construed to permit a direct appeal to this Court only from a lower court decision that represents a fully consummated determination that an Act of Congress is unconstitutional so as to permit this Court properly to resolve the constitutional question on the merits. Unlike JUSTICE O'CONNOR, I do not believe that § 1252 requires this Court directly to police the injunctive process in constitutional challenges in the first instance. Unlike the opinion for the Court, I do not believe that § 1252 may be invoked in such cases to short-circuit the process of orderly and principled constitutional adjudication. Accordingly, I believe the Court should have vacated the judgment and remanded to the District Court for the entry of a fresh decree, so that the Government could take a proper appeal of the preliminary-injunction order to the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. See, e. g., United States v. Christian Echoes National Ministry, 404 U.S. 561, 566 (1972) (per curiam). The Court having decided to the contrary and having reached the merits, I join JUSTICE STEVENS' dissent.
The Court does not appreciate the value of individual liberty. It may well be true that in the vast majority of cases a veteran does not need to employ a lawyer, ante, at 329-330, and that the system of processing veterans benefit claims, by
To explain my disagreement with the Court, I shall first add a few words about the history of the fee limitation, then identify the flaws in the Court's analysis, and finally explain why I believe § 3404(c) and § 3405 impose an unconstitutional restraint on individual liberty.
The first fee limitation — $5 per claim — was enacted in 1862.
At the time the $10-fee limitation was enacted, Congress presumably considered that fee reasonable. The legal work
The fact that the statute was aimed at unscrupulous attorneys is confirmed by the provision for criminal penalties. Instead of just making an agreement to pay a greater fee unenforceable — as an anticipatory pledge of an interest in future pension benefits is unenforceable — the Act contains a flat prohibition against the direct or indirect collection of a greater fee, and provides that an attorney who charges more than $10 may be imprisoned for up to two years at hard labor.
The language in § 3405, particularly the use of the words "directly or indirectly," apparently would apply to consultations between a veteran and a lawyer concerning a claim that is ultimately allowed, as well as to an appearance before the agency itself. In today's market, the reasonable fee for even the briefest conference would surely exceed $10. Thus, the law that was enacted in 1864 to protect veterans from unscrupulous lawyers — those who charge excessive fees — effectively denies today's veteran access to all lawyers who charge reasonable fees for their services.
The Court's opinion blends its discussion of the paternalistic interest in protecting veterans from unscrupulous lawyers and the bureaucratic interest in minimizing the cost of administration in a way that implies that each interest reinforces the other. Actually the two interests are quite different and merit separate analysis.
In my opinion, the bureaucratic interest in minimizing the cost of administration is nothing but a red herring.
The fact that a lawyer's services are unnecessary in most cases, and might even be counterproductive in a few, does not justify a total prohibition on their participation in all pension claim proceedings. This fact is perhaps best illustrated by Gagnon v. Scarpelli, 411 U.S. 778 (1973), a case in which we held that the State does not have a constitutional obligation
In 1982, the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs reviewed the fee limitation and concluded:
Moreover, the growth of the strong system of active service officers who provide excellent representation at no cost to claimants is significant because it has virtually eliminated the danger that a claimant will be tempted to waste money on unnecessary legal services. As the Senate Committee recognized, however, the availability of such competent, free representation is not a reason for denying a claimant the right to employ counsel of his own choice in an appropriate case.
It is evident from what I have written that I regard the fee limitation as unwise and an insult to the legal profession. It does not follow, however, that it is unconstitutional. The Court correctly notes that the presumption of constitutionality that attaches to every Act of Congress requires the challenger to bear the burden of demonstrating its invalidity.
The fact that the $10-fee limitation has been on the books since 1864 does not, in my opinion, add any force at all to the presumption of validity. Surely the age of the de jure segregation at issue in Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), or the age of the gerrymandered voting districts at issue in Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), provided no legitimate support for those rules. In this case, the passage of time, instead of providing support for the fee limitation, has effectively eroded the one legitimate justification that formerly made the legislation rational. The age of the statute cuts against, not in favor of, its validity.
It is true that the statute that was incorrectly invalidated in Lochner provided protection for a group of workers, but that protection was a response to the assumed disparity in the bargaining power of employers and employees, and was justified by the interest in protecting the health and welfare of the protected group. It is rather misleading to imply that a rejection of the Lochner holding is an endorsement of rational paternalism as a legitimate legislative goal. See ante, at 323. But in any event, the kind of paternalism reflected in this statute as it operates today is irrational. It purports to protect the veteran who has little or no need for protection, and it actually denies him assistance in cases in which the help of his own lawyer may be of critical importance.
The Court recognizes that the Veterans' Administration's procedures must provide claimants with due process of law, but then concludes that the constitutional requirement is satisfied because the appellees have not proved that the "probability of error under the present system" is unacceptable.
The fundamental error in the Court's analysis is its assumption that the individual's right to employ counsel of his choice in a contest with his sovereign is a kind of second-class
In all criminal proceedings, that right is expressly protected by the Sixth Amendment. As I have indicated, in civil disputes with the Government I believe that right is also protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and by the First Amendment. If the Government, in the guise of a paternalistic interest in protecting the citizen from his own improvidence, can deny him access to independent counsel of his choice, it can change the character of our free society.
In my view, regardless of the nature of the dispute between the sovereign and the citizen — whether it be a criminal trial, a proceeding to terminate parental rights, a claim for social security benefits, a dispute over welfare benefits, or a pension claim asserted by the widow of a soldier who was killed on the battlefield — the citizen's right to consult an independent lawyer and to retain that lawyer to speak on his or her behalf is an aspect of liberty that is priceless. It
Unfortunately, the reason for the Court's mistake today is all too obvious. It does not appreciate the value of individual liberty.
I respectfully dissent.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation et al. by Burt Neuborne, Charles S. Sims, Alan L. Schlosser, and Amitai Schwartz; for the American Veterans Committee, Inc., by Michael W. Beasley, Allan L. Kamerow, Lawrence E. Lewy, and Irving R. M. Panzer; for the Federal Bar Association by Alfred F. Belcuore; for the Lawyers' Club of San Francisco by Jerome Sapiro, Jr., and Fred H. Altshuler; for the National Association of Atomic Veterans by Walter R. Allan, Karen J. Wegner, and Debra B. Keil; for Vietnam Veterans of America by Mary E. Baluss, Samuel M. Sipe, Jr., David F. Addlestone, and Barton F. Stichman; and for Andrew Groza by James Joseph Lynch, Jr.
"It is the defined and consistently applied policy of the Veterans Administration to administer the law under a broad interpretation, consistent, however, with the facts shown in every case. When, after careful consideration of all procurable and assembled data, a reasonable doubt arises regarding service origin, the degree of disability, or any other point, such doubt will be resolved in favor of the claimant. By reasonable doubt is meant one which exists by reason of the fact that the evidence does not satisfactorily prove or disprove the claim, yet a substantial doubt and one within the range of probability as distinguished from pure speculation or remote possibility. It is not a means of reconciling actual conflict or a contradiction in the evidence; the claimant is required to submit evidence sufficient to justify a belief in a fair and impartial mind that his claim is well grounded. Mere suspicion or doubt as to the truth of any statements submitted, as distinguished from impeachment or contradiction by evidence or known facts, is not a justifiable basis for denying the application of the reasonable doubt doctrine if the entire, complete record otherwise warrants involving this doctrine. The reasonable doubt doctrine is also applicable even in the absence of official records, particularly if the basic incident allegedly arose under combat, or similarly strenuous conditions, and is consistent with the probable results of such known hardships."
"In any suit or proceeding in any court of the United States to which the United States, or any agency thereof, or any officer or employee thereof, as such officer or employee, is a party, or in which the United States has intervened and become a party, and in which the decision is against the constitutionality of any Act of Congress, an appeal may be taken directly to the Supreme Court of the United States by the United States or any other party. . . ."
"It should be realized that procedural requirements entail the expenditure of limited resources, that at some point the benefit to individuals from an additional safeguard is substantially outweighed by the cost of providing such protection, and that the expense of protecting those likely to be found undeserving will probably come out of the pockets of the deserving."
Anecdotal evidence such as this may well be sufficient to support a finding by a judge or jury in litigation between private parties that a particular fact did or did not exist. But when we deal with a massive benefits program provided by Congress in which 800,000 claims per year are decided by 58 regional offices, and 36,000 claims are appealed to the BVA, it is simply not the sort of evidence that will permit a conclusion that the entire system is operated contrary to its governing regulations.
When Congress makes findings on essentially factual issues such as these, those findings are of course entitled to a great deal of deference, inasmuch as Congress is an institution better equipped to amass and evaluate the vast amounts of data bearing on such an issue. See Rostker v. Goldberg, 453 U.S. 57, 72-73 (1981); Vance v. Bradley, 440 U.S. 93, 111-112 (1979); Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294 (1964). Because we do not believe the record in the District Court contradicted these findings, however, we need not rely on them, or determine what deference must be afforded on this congressional record; we mention the Committee's findings only because they are entirely consistent with our understanding of the record developed in the District Court.
"Any party may appeal to the Supreme Court from an interlocutory or final judgment, decree or order of any court of the United States, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam and the District Court of the Virgin Islands and any court of record of Puerto Rico, holding an Act of Congress unconstitutional in any civil action, suit, or proceeding to which the United States or any of its agencies, or any officer or employee thereof, as such officer or employee, is a party.
"A party who has received notice of appeal under this section shall take any subsequent appeal or cross appeal to the Supreme Court. All appeals or cross appeals taken to other courts prior to such notice shall be treated as taken directly to the Supreme Court."
"In any suit or proceeding in any court of the United States to which the United States, or any agency thereof, or any officer or employee thereof, as such officer or employee, is a party, or in which the United States has intervened and become a party, and in which the decision is against the constitutionality of any Act of Congress, an appeal may be taken directly to the Supreme Court of the United States by the United States or any other party to such suit or proceeding upon application therefor or notice thereof within thirty days after the entry of a final or interlocutory judgment, decree, or order; and in the event that any such appeal is taken, any appeal or cross-appeal by any party to the suit or proceeding taken previously, or taken within sixty days after notice of an appeal under this section, shall also be or be treated as taken directly to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the event that an appeal is taken under this section, the record shall be made up and the case docketed in the Supreme Court of the United States within sixty days from the time such appeal is allowed, under such rules as may be prescribed by the proper courts. Appeals under this section shall be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States at the earliest possible time and shall take precedence over all other matters not of a like character. This section shall not be construed to be in derogation of any right of direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States under existing provisions of law."
"Because direct review is linked to a court's holding a federal statute unconstitutional, the logical test of which appeals from a judgment must be brought directly to this Court and which, standing alone, must follow the normal route of appellate review, is whether the issue on appeal is the holding of statutory unconstitutionality." Heckler v. Edwards, 465 U. S., at 880 (emphasis added).
There is an additional reason why today's jurisdictional decision will bring every order granting preliminary relief in single as-applied cases directly before the Court: jurisdictional rules must be clear cut and cannot turn on indefinite notions of "importance" or "wide-ranging impact." "[L]itigants ought to be able to apply a clear test to determine whether, as an exception to the general rule of appellate review, they must perfect an appeal directly to the Supreme Court." Id., at 877.
"No interlocutory or permanent injunction suspending or restraining the enforcement, operation, or execution of, or setting aside, in whole or in part, any Act of Congress upon the ground that such or any part thereof is repugnant to the Constitution of the United States shall be issued or granted by any district court of the United States, or by any judge thereof, or by any circuit judge acting as a district judge, unless the application for the same shall be presented to a circuit or district judge, and shall be heard and determined by three judges, of whom at least one shall be a circuit judge. When any such application is presented to a judge, he shall immediately request the senior circuit judge (or in his absence, the presiding circuit judge) of the circuit in which such district court is located to designate two other judges to participate in hearing and determining such application. It shall be the duty of the senior circuit judge or the presiding circuit judge, as the case may be, to designate immediately two other judges from such circuit for such purpose, and it shall be the duty of the judges so designated to participate in such hearing and determination. Such application shall not be heard or determined before at least five days' notice of the hearing has been given to the Attorney General and to such other persons as may be defendants in the suit: Provided, That if of opinion that irreparable loss or damage would result to the petitioner unless a temporary restraining order is granted, the judge to whom the application is made may grant such temporary restraining order at any time before the hearing and determination of the application, but such temporary restraining order shall remain in force only until such hearing and determination upon notice as aforesaid, and such temporary restraining order shall contain a specific finding, based upon evidence submitted to the court making the order and identified by reference thereto, that such irreparable loss or damage would result to the petitioner and specifying the nature of the loss or damage. The said court may, at the time of hearing such application, upon a like finding, continue the temporary stay or suspension, in whole or in part, until decision upon the application. The hearing upon any such application for an interlocutory or permanent injunction shall be given precedence and shall be in every way expedited and be assigned for a hearing at the earliest practicable day. An appeal may be taken directly to the Supreme Court of the United States upon application therefore or notice thereof within thirty days after the entry of the order, decree, or judgment granting or denying, after notice and hearing, an interlocutory or permanent injunction in such case. In the event that an appeal is taken under this section, the record shall be made up and the case docketed in the Supreme Court of the United States within sixty days from the time such appeal is allowed, under such rules as may be prescribed by the proper courts. Appeals under this section shall be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States at the earliest possible time and shall take precedence over all other matters not of a like character. This section shall not be construed to be in derogation of any right of direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States under existing provisions of law."
"Sec. 6. And be it further enacted, That the fees of agents and attorneys for making out and causing to be executed the papers necessary to establish a claim for a pension, bounty, and other allowance, before the Pension Office under this act, shall not exceed the following rates: For making out and causing to be duly executed a declaration by the applicant, with the necessary affidavits, and forwarding the same to the Pension Office, with the requisite correspondence, five dollars. In cases wherein additional testimony is required by the Commissioner of Pensions, for each affidavit so required and executed and forwarded (except the affidavits of surgeons, for which such agents and attorneys shall not be entitled to any fees,) one dollar and fifty cents.
"Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, That any agent or attorney who shall, directly or indirectly, demand or receive any greater compensation for his services under this act than is prescribed in the preceding section of this act, or who shall contract or agree to prosecute any claim for a pension, bounty, or other allowance under this act, on the condition that he shall receive a per centum upon, or any portion of the amount of such claim, or who shall wrongfully withhold from a pensioner or other claimant the whole or any part of the pension or claim allowed and due to such pensioner or claimant, shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall, for every such offence, be fined not exceeding three hundred dollars, or imprisoned at hard labor not exceeding two years, or both, according to the circumstances and aggravations of the offence." 12 Stat. 568.
"Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, That the fees of agents and attorneys for making out and causing to be executed the papers necessary to establish a claim for a pension, bounty, and other allowance before the pension-office, under this act, shall not exceed the following rates: For making out and causing to be duly executed a declaration by the applicant, with the necessary affidavits, and forwarding the same to the pension-office, with the requisite correspondence, ten dollars; which sum shall be received by such agent or attorney in full for all services in obtaining such pension, and shall not be demanded or received in whole or in part until such pension shall be obtained; and the sixth and seventh sections of an act entitled `An act to grant pensions,' approved July fourteenth, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, are hereby repealed." 13 Stat. 389.
Section 13 of the 1864 Act reenacted the criminal penalties contained in § 7 of the 1862 Act. Ibid. See n. 1, supra.
"The restriction involved here is not merely an effort by the Government to regulate the use of its own property, such as was involved in United States Postal Service v. Greenburgh Civic Assns., 453 U.S. 114 (1981), or the dismissal of a speaker from Government employment, such as was involved in Connick v. Myers, 461 U.S. 138 (1983). It is a flat, across-the-board criminal sanction . . . ." FEC v. National Conservative PAC, 470 U.S. 480, 496 (1985).
"It is probably true that, except for those whose low income qualifies them for free legal services, the current fee limitation effectively precludes attorney representation before the VA." S. Rep. No. 97-466, p. 102 (1982) (letter of Veterans' Administration's Acting Director to Hon. Alan K. Simpson, dated July 14, 1981).
"The government has neither argued nor shown that lifting the fee limit would harm the government in any way, except as the paternalistic protector of claimants' supposed best interests." 589 F.Supp. 1302, 1323 (ND Cal. 1984).
See also n. 8, supra.
"We thus find no justification for a new inflexible constitutional rule with respect to the requirement of counsel. We think, rather, that the decision as to the need for counsel must be made on a case-by-case basis in the exercise of a sound discretion by the state authority charged with responsibility for administering the probation and parole system. Although the presence and participation of counsel will probably be both undesirable and constitutionally unnecessary in most revocation hearings, there will remain certain cases in which fundamental fairness — the touchstone of due process — will require that the State provide at its expense counsel for indigent probationers or parolees." 411 U. S., at 790.
"The need for counsel at revocation hearings derives, not from the invariable attributes of those hearings, but rather from the peculiarities of particular cases." Id., at 789.
"Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government's purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil-minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding." Id., at 479 (Brandeis, J., dissenting).
"The issue is one of fundamental fairness, not of weighing the pecuniary costs against the societal benefits. Accordingly, even if the costs to the State were not relatively insignificant but rather were just as great as the costs of providing prosecutors, judges, and defense counsel to ensure the fairness of criminal proceedings, I would reach the same result in this category of cases. For the value of protecting our liberty from deprivation by the State without due process of law is priceless." Lassiter v. Department of Social Services of Durham County, 452 U.S. 18, 60 (1981) (dissenting).
Moreover, the Framers of the Constitution created a federal sovereign whose powers were to be exercised by different branches — a Legislature, an Executive, and a Judiciary — and which was expected to coexist with at least 13 other sovereigns having jurisdiction over the same people and the same territory. Surely, if they were motivated by a desire to improve the efficiency of the economy, they could have developed a much more simple design for the new Government. The reason they did not do so is perfectly clear. The text of the Constitution is replete with provisions that are intended to secure the blessings of liberty — or conversely, to protect against the dangers of tyranny — notwithstanding their possible costs. Significantly, those protections not only recognized the evils associated with a monarch, or an executive with absolute power, but also the risk of tyranny by an unrestrained majority. The limited delegations of power to the Federal Government, the tripartite division of authority among three branches of the Federal Government, the division of the Legislature into two Houses, the staggered terms of office, with Senators serving six years, the President four years, and Representatives only two, the provision for a Presidential veto of Acts of Congress, the guarantee of life tenure for federal judges — all of the checks and balances are consistent with the interest in protecting individual liberty from the possible misuse of power by a transient unrestrained majority.
"No State `shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law,' says the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. . . . By the term `liberty,' as used in the provision, something more is meant than the mere freedom from physical restraint or the bounds of a prison. It means freedom to go where one may choose, and to act in such manner, not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, as his judgment may dictate for the promotion of his happiness; that is, to pursue such callings and avocations as may be most suitable to develop his capacities, and give to them their highest enjoyment." Id., at 142 (Field, J., dissenting).
"The priceless heritage of our society is the unrestricted constitutional right of each member to think as he will. Thought control is a copyright of totalitarianism, and we have no claim to it. It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error."