Knight v. Lane - 228 U.S. 6 (1913)


U.S. Supreme Court

Knight v. Lane, 228 U.S. 6 (1913)

Knight v. Lane

No. 163

Argued March 5, 6, 1913

Decided March 17, 1913

228 U.S. 6

Syllabus

Until the legal title to public land passes from the government, inquiry as to all equitable rights comes within the cognizance of the Land Department. Brown v. Hitchock, 173 U. S. 473.

Until the matter is closed by final action, the proceedings of an officer of a department are as much open to review or reversal by himself or his successor as are the interlocutory decrees of a court open to review upon the final hearing. New Orleans v. Paine, 147 U. S. 261.

A decision of the Secretary of the Interior revoking his prior approval of an adjustment between contestants, one of whom is a minor, and which is not arbitrary or capricious, but given after a hearing and in the exercise of the discretion confided to him by law, cannot be reviewed, nor can he be compelled to retract it, by mandamus. Ness v. Fisher, 223 U. S. 683.

The power given by the Act of July 1, 1902, providing for allotment of Cherokee lands in severalty, to the Secretary of the Interior to decide between contestants, is not exhausted by a decision approving a settlement and directing deeds to be submitted to him for approval. Such a decision is interlocutory, and not final, and power still remained to reconsider and revoke.

35 App.D.C. 429 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the Act of Congress allotting Cherokee lands in severalty and the power of the Secretary of the Interior thereunder to determine contests and to reconsider his decisions thereon, are stated in the opinion.

Page 228 U. S. 8



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