Anicker v. Gunsburg,
246 U.S. 110 (1918)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Anicker v. Gunsburg, 246 U.S. 110 (1918)

Anicker v. Gunsburg

No. 164

Argued January 28, 1918

Decided March 4, 1918

246 U.S. 110


An oil and gas lease of the restricted land of a Creek full-blood is not valid without approval by the Secretary of the Interior. Act of May 27, 1908, § 2, c.199, 35 Stat. 312.

When there are two such leases in conflict, one of which has been approved by the Secretary, the unsuccessful claimant, to charge his adversary as trustee, must show that, as matter of law, the Secretary erred both in approving the one lease and in refusing to approve the other.

And the facts that the plaintiff's lease was the first filed with the Union Agency at Muskogee, and that it was recorded with the county register of deeds, whereas defendant's was not, and any constructive notice coming from such filings and recordations under the Acts of March 1, 1907, c. 2285, 34 Stat. 1026, and April 26, 1906, c. 1876, 34 Stat. 145, and Arkansas statutes in force in the Indian Territory, and the effect of a rule of the Secretary of the Interior providing for the filing of leases within thirty days of execution -- are all matters beside the case where it does not appear affirmatively that the Secretary would have approved the plaintiff's lease if he had refused approval of the defendant's.

While the law does not vest arbitrary power in the Secretary, his approval of such leases rests in the exercise of his discretion; he may consider the advantages and disadvantages to the Indian and grant or withhold approval as his judgment may dictate-the court may interfere to protect the rights of others only when they are invaded by clearly unauthorized action.

Action of the Secretary within his discretionary power is not vitiated by the fact that the reasons assigned in his discussion of the case when before him were not wholly sound.

226 F. 176 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 246 U. S. 113

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