President Roosevelt fired William Humphrey, a commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Humphrey later passed away. The executor of Humphrey’s estate (plaintiff) sued the United States (defendant) for back pay. The executor also alleged President Roosevelt violated the Federal Trade Commission Act, which stated that a commissioner could only be removed for being inefficient, neglecting duties, or wrongdoing. The government argued that Humphrey's estate was not entitled to back pay because the act's removal restriction was unconstitutional. The Court of Claims dismissed the back pay claim and certified the question of the removal restriction's constitutionality to the United States Supreme Court.