Daniels v. Wagner, 237 U.S. 547 (1915)
U.S. Supreme CourtDaniels v. Wagner, 237 U.S. 547 (1915)
Daniels v. Wagner
Argued April 21, 1915
Decided June 1, 1915
237 U.S. 547
Under the Forest Act of June 4, 1897, c. 2, 30 Stat. 36, one whose land was included in a forest reserve had the right to apply to the Land Office, and, on surrendering his land, to obtain the right to enter an equal amount of public lands on offering to do all that the law and lawful regulations of the Land Department required.
The fact that an officer of the Land Department commits a wrong by denying to an individual a right expressly conferred by law cannot become the generating source of a discretionary power to make such wrongful act legal. Cosmos Co. v. Gray Eagle Co., 190 U. S. 301, distinguished.
One who has done everything essential, exacted either by law or the lawful regulations of the Land Department, to obtain a right from the Land Office conferred upon him by Congress cannot be deprived of that right either by the exercise of discretion or by a wrong committed by the Land Officers.
Error of law having been committed by the Land Department in assuming that it had a discretionary power to reject a lieu entry made under the Forest Act of June 4, 1897, by one who had offered to comply with the statute and lawful regulations of the Department, its action is not sustainable upon general equitable considerations such as were made the basis for refusing to issue certificates in this case.
Because a patent of the United States is involved does not necessarily require the United States to be a party to an action to determine to whom it should have been issued.
205 F. 235, reversed.
The facts, which involve the construction of certain provisions of the laws of the United States relating to the public lands, are stated in the opinion.