McCurdy v. United States - 246 U.S. 263 (1918)


U.S. Supreme Court

McCurdy v. United States, 246 U.S. 263 (1918)

McCurdy v. United States

No. 685

Argued January 18, 1918

Decided March 4, 1918

246 U.S. 263

Syllabus

Whether, in view of the limitations of Art. IV, § 3, and the Ninth and Tenth Amendments of the Constitution, Congress has power to exempt from state taxation land purchased for a tribal Indian which, when acquired, was part of the mass of private property subject to the state taxing power and jurisdiction, is a substantial constitutional

Page 246 U. S. 264

question, affording ground, if properly raised, for direct appeal from a decree of the district court.

Upon a direct appeal from the district court based upon a constitutional question, all questions involved are open for review, and there is no occasion to consider the constitutional question if the case may be disposed of on other grounds.

The Acts of June 28, 1906, c. 3572, 34 Stat. 539, and April 18, 1912, c. 83, 37 Stat. 86, respecting the Osage Indians, do not authorize the Secretary of the Interior to impose restrictions upon private land purchased for a noncompetent Osage allottee with his trust money, previously released under § 5 of the latter act, and thus exempt it as a governmental instrumentality, during such restraint, from the power of the State of Oklahoma to tax it and to sell it for the collection of such taxes. United States v. Rickert, 188 U. S. 432, distinguished.

The land was originally part of the Osage Reservation, but had been sold under the Osage Townsite Act, and for some years had been part of the private land in the state, and had been taxed as such. The taxes in question were imposed after the purchase for the allottee and attempted imposition of restrictions.

Section 5 of the Act of April 18, 1912, supra, authorizing the Secretary of the Interior, in his discretion and under rules and regulations to be prescribed by him, to pay to any Osage allottee all or any part of the funds held for his benefit when satisfied that the allottee is competent or that the payment would be to his manifest best interests and welfare, and the regulations issued thereunder dated June 26, 1912, both contemplate supervision of the expenditure of the money, but not control of property for which the money may be expended. In this case, moreover, where the land purchased was first conveyed to a trustee for the allottee and another, the terms of the trust not here appearing, and later was deeded by the trustee to the allottee with an expressed restriction on alienation, non constat that the restriction was a continuation of control reserved by the Secretary, rather than an assumption of control of part of the Indian's estate theretofore freed.

Reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 246 U. S. 265



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