Memorandum of Disapproval of a Relief Bill for Isaac Hulver
I am withholding my approval of S. 442, a bill which would provide for the private relief of Mr. Isaac Hulver of Kansas City, Missouri. The United States court of appeals ruled against the claim of Mr. Hulver on the basis that the 2-year statute had expired before suit was filed, thus barring any tort action against the United States. Application for review was made to the United States Supreme Court, which declined, without comment, to hear the case.
Objection to this bill is two-fold, as expressed to me by the Department of Justice and the Veterans Administration. First, in 1979 the Supreme Court held that the statute of limitations was not merely a technicality, but that it was one of the conditions on which the traditional sovereign immunity of the United States has been waived to suit in tort, and that the period of limitations is as important to operation of the Federal Tort Claims Act as are the substantive rights created by that law. Second, this bill constitutes unwarranted preferential treatment which would defeat the goal of uniform application of the law. The federal courts have determined that this claim is forever barred as a tort claim against the United States. Having been afforded due process of the law in the courts, it would be unwise for Mr. Hulver to be singled out for special consideration beyond what the law provides for all persons in similar circumstances.
I am not unmindful of the significant contributions made by Mr. Hulver to his country in wartime, or the seriousness of his injuries, for which service connected disability compensation has been awarded since his discharge from the armed forces in 1945. These considerations do not justify preferential treatment in this case.
The White House,
December 28, 1980.
Note: The text of the memorandum of disapproval was released on December 29.
Jimmy Carter, Memorandum of Disapproval of a Relief Bill for Isaac Hulver Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/250850