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Veto Message

January 22, 1873


SIR: I herewith return to the House of Representatives, in which it originated, H. R. No. 630, entitled "An act in relation to new trials in the Court of Claims," without my approval.

The object of the bill is to reduce from two years to six months the time in which a new trial, upon motion of the United States, may be granted in the Court of Claims.

Great difficulties are now experienced in contesting fraudulent and unjust claims against the Government prosecuted in said court, and the effect of this bill, if it becomes a law, will be to increase those difficulties. Persons sue in this court generally with the advantage of a personal knowledge of the circumstances of the case, and are prompted by personal interest to activity in its preparation for trial, which consists sometimes in the production of false testimony and the suppression of the truth, while the United States are dependent for defense upon such inquiries as the officers of the Government, generally strangers to the transaction, are enabled to make, not infrequently in remote parts of the country and among those not averse to depredations upon the National Treasury. Instances have occurred where the existing opportunities for a new trial have enabled the Government to discover and defeat claims that ought not to have been allowed, after judgments thereon had been rendered by the Court of Claims.

By referring to the act which it is proposed to modify it will be seen that the payment of judgments recovered is not necessarily suspended for two years; but where the proofs are doubtful or suspicious the Government may appeal to the Supreme Court, and in the meantime may avail itself of any discovery or revelation of new evidence touching the facts of the ease.

I fail to see the necessity or advantages of the proposed change in the law, and whatever may be the purposes of the bill, its effect, if passed, I am apprehensive will be to facilitate the prosecution of fraudulent claims against the United States. Believing that justice can and will be done to honest claimants in the Court of Claims as the law now stands, and believing also that the proposed change in the law will remove a valuable safeguard to the Treasury, I must for these reasons respectfully withhold my assent to the bill.


Ulysses S. Grant, Veto Message Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/203603

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