Wyoming v. United States - 255 U.S. 489 (1921)
U.S. Supreme Court
Wyoming v. United States, 255 U.S. 489 (1921)
Wyoming v. United States
Argued October 6, 7, 1920
Decided March 28, 1921
255 U.S. 489
1. Lands "in place" granted to a state for the support of schools and subsequently included within a reservation by the United States are exchangeable for unappropriated, nonmineral public lands of equal acreage outside the reservation under the Act of February 28, 1891, c. 384, 2 Stat. 796, amending §§ 2276, 2276, Rev.Stats. P. 255 U. S. 493.
2. Although, under other general provision (Rev.Stats. §§ 441, 453, 2478), the lieu lands are selected by the state under the direction of the Secretary of the Interior, this implies no discretion in him or in the Land Department to refuse approval of selections duly made, their function here being purely the judicial one of determining whether selections, with accompanying surrenders of base land, complied with the act of Congress and the Secretary's directions under the conditions existing at the time when the selections were made and completed. P. 255 U. S. 496.
3. When such a selection, with accompanying waiver or surrender, has been duly made and completed in full conformity with the act and the directions of the Secretary, the equitable title to the tract selected passes to the state, the United States acquiring a like title to the base land, and the rights of the state cannot be affected by a subsequent attempt by the executive to reserve the tract selected or a subsequent discovery that it contains mineral. P. 255 U. S. 497. Wisconsin Central R. Co. v. Price County, 133 U. S. 496, and Cosmos Exploration Co. v. Gray Eagle Oil Co., 190 U. S. 301, explained.
4. It is a general rule that the question of the mineral or nonmineral character of land selected or entered shall be determined as of the time when the selector or entryman fully complied with all conditions precedent resting upon him. P. 255 U. S. 500.
5. The exception to this rule found in the case of lands claimed under railroad aid grants, where the question of mineral character remains open until patent issues, is based upon the peculiar terms and subject matter of the granting acts, their long administrative interpretation, and their restrictive construction in favor of the government. P. 255 U. S. 507.
6. Legislation of Congress designed to aid the common school should be construed liberally, rather than restrictively. P. 255 U. S. 508.
7. The Act of June 25, 1910, c. 421, 36 Stat. 847, did not, and constitutionally could not, authorize executive withdrawal of land equitably vested in a state under a lieu election. P. 255 U. S. 509.
262 F. 675 reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion.