Lassen v. Arizona Highway Dept.
385 U.S. 458 (1967)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lassen v. Arizona Highway Dept., 385 U.S. 458 (1967)

Lassen v. Arizona Highway Department

No. 84

Argued November 16, 1966

Decided January 10, 1967

385 U.S. 458

Syllabus

The State of Arizona on relation of its Highway Department sued in the Arizona Supreme Court to prohibit the State Land Commissioner (who is essentially the trustee of lands granted to the State for specified public purposes by the United States pursuant to the New Mexico-Arizona Enabling Act) from enforcing rules governing the acquisition of rights of way and material sites in the trust lands. The rules provided that rights of way and material sites could be granted for an indefinite period after full payment of the appraised value. The Enabling Act, by such provisions as those for public notice and public sale, restricts the manner of disposition of trust lands and provides that no lands may be sold for less than their appraised value. The Act does not directly refer to the use by the State itself of trust lands for purposes not designated in the grant. The State Supreme Court ordered the Commissioner to grant the material sites and rights of way without compensation, holding that it may be conclusively presumed that highways across trust lands always enhance the value of remaining trust lands in amounts at least equal to the value of the areas taken.

Held:

1. Consistent with the essential purposes of the Enabling Act the restrictions on the manner of disposition of trust lands are not applicable to acquisitions by the State for its highway program. Pp. 385 U. S. 461-465.

2. The State must compensate the trust in money for the full appraised value of any material sites or rights of way which it obtains on or over trust lands, not diminished by the amount of any enhancement in value of the remaining trust lands. Pp. 385 U. S. 465-470.

99 Ariz. 161, 407 P.2d 747, reversed and remanded.

Page 385 U. S. 459

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