Curtin v. Benson,
222 U.S. 78 (1911)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Curtin v. Benson, 222 U.S. 78 (1911)

Curtin v. Benson

No. 1

Argued October 25, 1911

Decided November 20, 1911

222 U.S. 78


While one must come into equity with clean hands, a defendant invoking the rule on the ground that plaintiff is praying for relief with an improper object in view must establish that fact.

Even if the United States can exercise over public lands the powers of a sovereign as well the rights of a proprietor, there are limitations; neither can be exercised to destroy essential uses of private property.

To take away an essential use of property is to take the property itself.

Whether a power is within constitutional limits is to be determined by what can be done under it, not what may be done.

It is beyond the power of the Secretary of the Interior or the superintendents of national parks under his control to limit the uses to which lands within the parks held in private ownership may be put, and so held as to regulations prohibiting grazing cattle on private lands within the Yosemite Park until such lands have been defined and marked by an agreed understanding.

Evidence, inadmissible generally but admitted by the court below for a particular purpose, cannot be extended by this Court beyond the limited purpose of its introduction.

Quaere whether owners of lands within National Park limits can be required to fence their lands, or whether the trespassing of their cattle on other lands can be made a criminal offense.

Quaere whether an order of the Secretary of the Interior in regard to park lands can be construed as extending to toll roads constructed under authority of the state.

The facts, which involve the validity of rules made by the Secretary of the Interior in regard to grazing cattle on private lands within the limits of Yosemite Park, are stated in the opinion.

Page 222 U. S. 82

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