It is provided that "no money shall be drawn from the treasury but in consequence of appropriations made by law."
This restriction, it is apparent, operates rather upon the officials of the Treasury Department than upon Congress. The legislative body is left free to authorize such expenditures as it may see fit, and to direct the payments to be made by the Secretary of the Treasury. This direction having been given by law, no discretionary power is left with the Treasury Department to determine whether the payment is a proper one.13
Congress may, as has been earlier pointed out,14 appropriate sums of money for private purposes; for the construction and maintenance of works which the United States could not constitutionally itself construct or operate; and recognize and pay claims of merely an equitable or moral nature.15
That money once covered into the United States Treasury may not, by a judicial process, be recovered therefrom without the sanction of an act of Congress, is further discussed under the title " Suability of the United States." 16
Mr. Brainerd T. De Witt has an interesting article in the Political Science Quarterly, XV. p. 76. entitled "Are Our Legal Tender Laws Ex Post Facto?" in which he seeks to show, and with considerable success, that the framers of the Constitution probably intended that the prohibition upon the Federal government to pass ex post facto laws should include a denial of the right of legislation to impair the obligation of valid contracts previously entered into.
12 171 U. S. 380; 18 Sup. Ct. Rep. 922; 43 L. ed. 204.
13 United States v. Price, 116 U. S. 43; 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 235; 29 L. ed. 541.
14 Section 269.
15 United States v. Realty Co., 103 U. S. 427; 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1120; 41 L. ed. 215.