The Tucker Act was passed in 1887. This law was a jurisdictional statute which
expanded the scope of claims the Court of Claims could hear, but did not create
any new substantive rights. Hatzlachh Supply Co. v. United States, 444 U.S.
460 (1980). The Tucker Act did two things: (1) Plaintiffs could seek judgments
against the federal government for claims based upon the U.S. Constitution;
(2) Circuit courts received concurrent jurisdiction with the Court of Claims for
money damage claims of up to $10,000. In 1911, the jurisdiction of the circuit
courts was transferred by Congress to the federal district courts.
In the Federal Courts Administration Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-572 § 902), the
Court of Claims was renamed the Court of Federal Claims. The court is
established under Article I. 28 U.S.C. § 171(a). The bench consists of sixteen
judges, appointed by the president for terms of fifteen years. Procedure is in
accordance with the Rules of the United States Claims Court, which are derived
from the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Since 1982, the Court of Appeals for
the Federal Circuit has is the route for an appeal from a Court of Federal
Claims ruling. 28 U.S.C. § 1295(a)(3).
It has jurisdiction to “render judgment upon any claim against the United States
founded either upon the Constitution, or any Act of Congress or any regulation
of an executive department, or upon any express or implied contract with the
United States, or for liquidated or unliquidated damages in cases not sounding
in tort.” 28 U.S.C. § 1491. As such, the Court of Federal Claims hears three
main types of suits against the government: government contract disputes;
Fifth Amendment takings claims; and claims for tax refunds. The Tucker Act
waives sovereign immunity for such claims against the federal government.
United States v. Mitchell, 463 U.S. 206 (1983). Generally, only money damages
are available in a Tucker Act claim. United States v. King, 395 U.S. 1 (1969).
The Court of Federal Claims must accept as binding precedent any decision
published by the former Court of Claims. West Seattle Gen. Hospital, Inc. v.
United States, 1 Cl. Ct. 745 (1983). The Court of Federal Claims lacks
jurisdiction under the Tucker Act to hear tort claims against the federal
government; such claims must be brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act.
Indeed, until the passage of the FTCA, private bill was the continued method
for bringing tort claims against the federal government.