Andrus v. Idaho
Annotate this Case
445 U.S. 715 (1980)
U.S. Supreme Court
Andrus v. Idaho, 445 U.S. 715 (1980)
Andrus v. Idaho
Argued February 25, 1980
Decided April 16, 1980
445 U.S. 715
The Carey Act of 1894, in order to aid covered States in the reclamation of desert lands, "authorize[s] and empower[s]" the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), with the President's approval, upon proper application by a State to donate, grant, and patent such desert lands, not exceeding a specified acreage, as the State should cause to be irrigated, reclaimed, and occupied, provided however, that the lands may be restored to the public domain if the requirements as to reclamation are not satisfied within stated time limits. Under 43 U.S.C. § 643, the Secretary was also authorized, upon request of a State, to withdraw desert lands temporarily from the public domain prior to the State's submission of a formal plan under the Carey Act. Acting pursuant to 43 U.S.C. § 643, Idaho requested that a certain tract of land be temporarily withdrawn from the public domain pending the submission of a proposed development plan under the Act. The Idaho Office of the Bureau of Land Management rejected the application in part because some of the lands requested had already been withdrawn for other purposes, including a portion being used as a stock driveway. Idaho appealed to the Interior Board of Land Appeals with respect to the lands previously withdrawn for stock-driveway purposes, and also petitioned the Board for reclassification of the stock-driveway lands as suitable for use under the Act. Ultimately, the Board affirmed the rejection of Idaho's Carey Act application and returned the case to the Bureau of Land Management for initial action on the petition for reclassification of the stock-driveway lands and for further action on the remaining lands covered by the application for temporary withdrawal. Meanwhile, Idaho filed suit in Federal District Court for a declaration of its rights under the Act. That court held that the State was entitled to up to 2.4 million acres of desert land for which the Secretary was obligated to contract with the State pursuant to the terms of the Act; that the Act, however, was not a grant in praesenti, and the State did not have an absolute right to the particular desert lands that it happened to select; and that, if the lands had been withdrawn for another public use pursuant to another statute, the State's remedy was to request reclassification, which the Secretary could not arbitrarily deny. The Court of Appeals affirmed.
1. There is a real case or controversy with respect to the issue presented in the United States' petition for certiorari as to whether, under the Act, the State was entitled to 2.4 million acres of desert land which the Secretary then must reserve from appropriation to other public or private uses, and not just as to the State's entitlement to the lands that had been withdrawn for stock-driveway purposes and that were involved in its Interior Department appeal. Throughout the administrative and judicial proceedings, the parties have taken contrary positions as to whether the State is absolutely entitled to select and have withdrawn under the Act up to 2.4 million acres of desert land regardless of whether the lands it designates have already been withdrawn for other purposes, provided only that statutory preconditions are satisfied. Pp. 445 U. S. 722-725.
2. It is apparent from the language and legislative history of the Act that Congress did not intend to reserve any specific number of acres of desert land for any State under the Act, and the Act does not prevent the Secretary from committing otherwise available parts of the public domain for any of the uses authorized under the various statutes relating to the use and management of the public lands. The Act does not oblige the Secretary automatically to contract for lands chosen by the State even if its application otherwise conforms to the statute. Hence, even though a State's selection has not been withdrawn for other uses, the Secretary need not always approve the application. Pp. 725-731.
595 F.2d 524, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and BRENNAN, STEWART, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, POWELL, and REHNQUIST JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 445 U. S. 731.