United States v. Laughlin
249 U.S. 440 (1919)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Laughlin, 249 U.S. 440 (1919)

United States v. Laughlin

No. 200

Argued January 30, 31, 1919

Decided April 14, 1919

249 U.S. 440

Syllabus

The Act of March 26, 1908, c. 102, 35 Stat. 48, providing for repayment in all cases where it shall appear to the satisfaction of the Secretary of the Interior that excessive payments have been made to the United States under the public land laws, gives the Secretary exclusive jurisdiction to determine questions of fact; but when the undisputed facts, shown to his satisfaction, call for repayment as a matter of law, his adverse decision is reviewable by the courts and may be reviewed by an action brought by the claimant under Jud.Code § 145 in the Court of Claims. P. 249 U. S. 442.

Under the Northern Pacific land grant Act of July 2, 1864, c. 217, 13 Stat. 365, the filing of a map of general route, although followed by a withdrawal order, did not take the odd sections out of the public domain or exempt them from entry under the preemption and homestead laws prior to the filing and acceptance of the map of definite location. P. 249 U. S. 444. Nelson v. Northern Pacific Ry. Co.,188 U. S. 108.

The Act of 1864, supra, fixed no special price for odd-numbered sections within the limits of the Northern Pacific grant, and the right of a qualified person to preempt such a section prior to the acceptance of the railway's map of definite location at the minimum price of $1.25 per acre (Rev.Stats., §§ 2357, 2259) was a substantial right of which he could not he arbitrarily deprived by government officials. P. 249 U. S. 446.

Revised Stats. § 2364, providing that the Commissioner of the General Land office shall fix a price of not less than $1.25 per acre for

Page 249 U. S. 441

the lands of any reservation when brought into market, has no application to withdrawn odd sections within the Northern Pacific grant limits when preempted before definite location of the railroad. P. 249 U. S. 447.

The Act of June 22, 1874, c. 400, 18 Stat. 194, confers no authority upon officials of the United States to charge more for land relinquished by the Northern Pacific Company than otherwise might have been charged. P. 249 U. S. 446.

52 Ct.Clms. 92 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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