ERROR TO THE COURT OF APPEALS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
White, McKenna, Holmes, Day, Van Devanter, Pitney, McReynolds, Brandeis, Clarke
MR. JUSTICE CLARKE delivered the opinion of the court.
The relator, on April 30, 1915, filed his petition in the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia for a writ of mandamus against Franklin K. Lane, as Secretary of the Interior.
He alleged: That when serving as the duly appointed superintendent of Crater Lake National Park on June 7, 1913, the defendant requested him to resign; that protesting against such removal from office, he demanded that he be furnished with a statement in writing of the reasons for his removal and that he be given a reasonable time in which to answer; that upon June 28th, he received a telegram from the defendant notifying him that he had been removed, and directing that he should transfer all Government property to his successor, who was named; that he refused to relinquish his position or to transfer the property until convinced that the order for his removal was lawful; and that upon July 20, he was forcibly ejected from the Government office building and the records and papers of his office were seized by Government officials.
He further averred: That as such superintendent he was in the classified Civil Service of the Government and that he could not lawfully be removed therefrom "except for such cause as would promote the efficiency" of the service and for reasons stated in writing, which he must
be given a reasonable opportunity to answer; that on July 1st, 1913, he notified the defendant that he was able and willing to perform the duties of his office, that he had so continued to the time of the filing of his petition and that he had made every reasonable effort to be restored to his position, but without avail.
His prayer was that the defendant be required to answer his petition and that upon hearing a writ of mandamus should issue requiring the defendant to vacate the order for his dismissal, and to restore him to his former office.
In response to a rule to show cause the defendant filed an answer, containing, among other things, this paragraph:
"10. He denies the allegations of paragraph 10 to the extent that the same attempt to show that he has made every reasonable effort to be restored to the office of superintendent as aforesaid, in this: That if relator were improperly or unlawfully removed from said office, under circumstances such as to justify the interference of the courts, such condition existed immediately upon relator's removal from office and upon the Secretary's refusal to continue him in said office; notwithstanding which and notwithstanding that since said time, to wit, July 1, 1913, another person has been appointed to and has discharged the duties of said office and has received the salary and allowance therefor appropriated from time to time by Congress, the relator did not seek recourse to the courts until the lapse of nearly two years, and therein has by his gross laches barred any right to the relief sought if any such right ever existed."
A demurrer to this answer or return was filed stating as a ground: "Because no cause is shown in and by said return why a writ of mandamus should not ...