Among other things, the New Mexico-Arizona Enabling Act of 1910
granted Arizona certain lands, excluding mineral lands, in trust
for the support of public schools, and, in § 28, provided that
granted lands cannot be sold or leased except upon compliance with
certain conditions regarding advertising, bidding, and appraisal.
Arizona incorporated these conditions into Article 10 of its
Constitution. After this Court held the original mineral land
exclusion inapplicable to lands not known to be mineral at the time
of the grant, Wyoming v. United States, 255 U.
, Congress passed the Jones Act in 1927, extending
the terms of the original grant to encompass all mineral lands. The
Enabling Act was also amended in 1936 and 1951 to clarify the
procedures for leasing granted lands for specific purposes. The
latter amendment expressly extinguished the § 28 restrictions on
leases of granted lands for the development of hydrocarbon
substances. Arizona's own law governing mineral leases on state
lands does not require that the lands be advertised, appraised, or
leased for their full appraised value. Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann. §
27-234(B). Respondents, individual taxpayers and a state teachers
association, brought a state court suit against the State Land
Department and others, seeking a declaration that § 27-234(B) is
void on the ground that it does not comply with the provisions of §
28 or § 10 of the Arizona Constitution and requesting appropriate
injunctive relief. Petitioners, mineral lessees of state school
lands, intervened as defendants. The trial court upheld the
statute. The State Supreme Court reversed, ruling that § 27-234(B)
is "unconstitutional and invalid as it pertains to nonhydrocarbon
mineral leases," and remanded the case for the trial court,
to enter a judgment declaring § 27-234(B)
invalid and to consider what further relief might be
The judgment is affirmed.
155 Ariz. 484, 747 P.2d
JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court with respect
to Parts I, II-A, II-B-2, II-C, III, and IV, concluding that:
1. This Court has jurisdiction to review the decision below. PP.
490 U. S.
-612, 490 U. S.
(a) The Arizona Supreme Court issued a final judgment within the
meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1257, despite the fact that it remanded the
case for the trial court to determine appropriate further relief.
Page 490 U. S. 606
the trial court does not have before it any federal question
whether past or current leases are valid, since respondents, on
appeal, withdrew their request for an accounting and payment of
sums due under past leases. In addition, the trial court's further
actions cannot affect the State Supreme Court's ruling that §
27-234(B) is invalid. Thus, the judgment below comes within two of
the exceptions to the finality requirement set out in Cox
Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U. S. 469
420 U. S. 479
420 U. S. 480
(1) the federal issue is conclusive and the outcome of further
proceedings is preordained, and (2) the federal questions that
could come to this Court have been adjudicated by the state court,
and the remaining issues will not give rise to any further federal
question. Pp. 490 U. S.
(b) When a state court has issued a judgment interpreting
federal law in a case in which the plaintiffs in the original
action lacked standing to sue under the principles governing the
federal courts, this Court may exercise its jurisdiction on
certiorari if the state court judgment causes direct, specific, and
concrete injury to the parties who petition for this Court's
review, as long as the requisites of an Article III case or
controversy are also met. Here, petitioners possess standing to
invoke federal court authority, since they have alleged that the
decision below poses a serious and immediate threat to their
leases' continuing validity, that such injury can be traced to the
state court's erroneous interpretation of federal statutes, and
that the injury can be redressed by a favorable decision in this
Court. Moreover, the requisites of a case or controversy are met,
since the parties remain adverse, and the judgment below altered
tangible legal rights. It would be inappropriate for this Court to
vacate the judgment below on the ground that respondents lacked
federal standing when they brought suit initially, and to remand
for appropriate proceedings, since such a course would render
nugatory the state proceedings and have the effect of imposing
federal standing requirements on the state courts whenever they
adjudicate federal law issues, whereas established traditions and
this Court's decisions recognize that state courts are not bound by
Article III, and yet have it within both their power and proper
role to render binding judgments on federal law issues, subject
only to review by this Court. It would also be inappropriate for
this Court simply to order dismissal, leaving petitioners free to
bring a declaratory judgment action in federal court raising the
same claims, since such a disposition would be likely to defeat the
normal preclusive effects of the state court's judgment on the
ground that that court's conclusions about federal law were not
subject to any federal review. Such a course would also represent
an unnecessary partial inroad on the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine's construction of § 1257 as barring direct review in lower
federal courts of a decision reached by the highest state court,
District of Columbia Court of
Appeals v. Feldman,
Page 490 U. S. 607
U.S. 462; Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.
, particularly since petitioners have already
presented this Court with a case or controversy justiciable under
federal standards. Pp. 490 U. S.
(c) The decision below is not based on an adequate and
independent state ground that would defeat review of the federal
issue by this Court. Although the state court's opinion mentioned
the State Constitution several times and directed the trial court
to declare § 27-234(B) "unconstitutional," its discussion focused
solely on the federal statutes, without ever mentioning the State
Constitution apart from the Enabling Act. Moreover, the state court
explicitly considered itself bound by this Court's decisions to
adopt the plaintiffs' construction, and described Article 10 of the
State Constitution as simply a "rescript" of § 28 of the Enabling
Act. Thus, the opinion's references to the State Constitution
merely reflect a holding which rests on the state court's
interpretation of federal law, and do not divorce the state
constitutional issue from the federal law questions. Pp.
490 U. S.
2. Section 27-234(B) is invalid as to nonhydrocarbon mineral
leases, since the sale or lease of mineral lands granted to Arizona
under the federal statutes must substantially conform to the
mandatory requirements set out in the Enabling Act. Pp.
490 U. S.
(a) The grant of all lands under the Enabling Act is
conditioned, by the statute's clear and express language, upon the
specific requirements for leasing or selling those lands.
Petitioners' reliance on Neel v. Barker,
27 N.M. 605, 204
P. 205, for the proposition that, since mineral lands were
originally exempt from the 1910 grant, the Enabling Act's
provisions do not apply to lands later determined to be mineral in
nature, is flawed in two respects. First, Neel did not take into
account this Court's decision in Wyoming v. United States,
that unknown mineral lands were within the grant.
Second, since those lands were within the 1910 grant, they could
not be regarded as unburdened by its mandatory conditions. Pp.
490 U. S.
(b) The lands granted under the Jones Act are also subject to
the Enabling Act conditions. To read that Act's § 1(a) language --
which declares that the grant of mineral lands thereunder "shall be
of the same effect as prior grants" of nonmineral lands -- as only
assuring that title to the lands passed and vested in the same
manner and with the same validity as titles under the Enabling Act
would render the language redundant, since the statute subsequently
directly addresses the vesting of titles. Instead, that language
achieved Congress' objective of extending the 1910 grant to mineral
lands and confirming their title to the States. Similarly, § 1(b)
-- which states that, though mineral lands
may be sold,
the rights to mine and remove the minerals themselves may only be
leased "as the State legislature may direct" -- is not blanket
Page 490 U. S. 608
States to lease minerals on whatever terms they wish, as long as
the leases' proceeds go to the schools. Rather, it authorizes the
States to regulate the methods by which mineral leases are made,
and to specify necessary or desirable additional terms, as long as
the leases comply with the Enabling Act's dispositional
requirements. Pp. 490 U. S.
(c) The 1936 and 1951 amendments to the Enabling Act confirm
that Congress never removed the original conditions contained in
the Act. In the amendments, Congress reiterated the formulation
that lands could be leased for certain purposes as the state
legislature "may direct" and as it "may prescribe." The 1936
Amendment did not alter the application of § 28 to "all lands," and
the 1951 Amendment, because it expressly
§ 28 restrictions as to hydrocarbon leases, but not as to other
mineral leases, tends to confirm that the original restrictions
remain in force as to nonhydrocarbon leases. Pp. 490 U. S.
JUSTICE KENNEDY, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE STEVENS,
and JUSTICE SCALIA, concluded in Part II-B-1 that the suit would
have been dismissed at the outset if federal standing-to-sue rules
were to apply, since neither respondent taxpayers nor respondent
teachers association, the original plaintiffs, would have satisfied
the requirements for bringing suit in federal court. Respondent
taxpayers' assertion that § 27-234(B) has "deprived the school
trust funds of millions of dollars, thereby resulting in
unnecessarily higher taxes," and respondent association's
allegations that the section "imposes an adverse economic impact"
on its members and that teachers have a special interest in the
quality of education in the State, do not assert the kind of
particular, direct, and concrete personal injury that is necessary
to confer standing to sue in federal courts. Pp. 490 U. S.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, joined by JUSTICE WHITE, JUSTICE MARSHALL, and
JUSTICE BLACKMUN, agreeing that the question whether the state
court plaintiffs had Article III standing is irrelevant when it is
the defendants below who invoke the federal courts' authority,
concluded that it was unnecessary to reach the question of the
standing of the plaintiffs below. Pp. 490 U. S.
KENNEDY, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered
the opinion of the Court with respect to Part I, in which all
participating Members joined, the opinion of the Court with respect
to Parts II-A, II-B-2, II-C, III, and IV, in which BRENNAN, WHITE,
MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and STEVENS, JJ., joined, and an opinion with
respect to Part II-B-l, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and STEVENS and
SCALIA, JJ., joined. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion concurring in
part and concurring in the judgment, in which WHITE, MARSHALL, and
BLACKMUN, JJ., joined, post,
p. 490 U. S. 633
REHNQUIST, C.J., filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting
Page 490 U. S. 609
part, in which SCALIA, J., joined, post,
490 U. S. 634
O'CONNOR, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the
JUSTICE KENNEDY delivered the opinion of the Court, except as to
The ultimate question for our decision is whether Arizona's
statute governing mineral leases on state lands is void because it
does not conform with the federal laws that originally granted
those lands from the United States to Arizona. First, however,
there is a difficult question about our own jurisdiction, a matter
which touches on essential aspects of the proper relation between
state and federal courts.
Page 490 U. S. 610
Various individual taxpayers and the Arizona Education
Association, which represents approximately 20,000 public school
teachers throughout the State, brought suit in Arizona state court,
seeking a declaration that the state statute governing mineral
leases on state lands, Ariz. Rev.Stat.Ann. § 27-234(B) (Supp.1988),
is void, and also seeking appropriate injunctive relief. The state
statute was challenged on the ground that it does not comply with
the methods Congress required the State to follow before it could
lease or sell the lands granted from the United States in the New
Mexico-Arizona Enabling Act of 1910, 36 Stat. 557, and which are
repeated in the Arizona Constitution. The suit was brought against
the Arizona Land Department and others. ASARCO Incorporated and
other current mineral lessees of state school lands were permitted
to intervene as defendants. Eventually the trial court certified
the case as a defendant class action under Arizona Rule of Civil
Procedure 23. The defendant class consisted of all present and
future mineral lessees of state lands.
The trial court upheld the statute on cross-motions for summary
judgment, and respondents (the original plaintiffs) appealed. The
Arizona Supreme Court reversed over the dissent of one justice,
ruling that the statute is "unconstitutional and invalid as it
pertains to nonhydrocarbon mineral leases." Kadish v. Arizona
State Land Dept.,
155 Ariz. 484, 498, 747
, 1197 (1987). It remanded the case to the trial court
with instructions to enter summary judgment for respondents, to
enter a judgment declaring § 27-234(B) invalid, and to consider
what further relief, if any, might be appropriate.
Various of the mineral lessees filed a petition for certiorari,
and we granted review. 488 U.S. 887 (1988).
Before we may undertake to consider whether the state
legislation authorizing the leases is valid under federal law,
Page 490 U. S. 611
we must rule on whether we have jurisdiction in the case. The
parties and amici
raise three jurisdictional issues, each
of substance. We would be required, of course, to raise these
matters on our own initiative if necessary, for our legitimate
exercise of judicial power is confined both by statutes and by
Article III of the Constitution. The issues here are: first,
whether the judgment below is final; second, whether there is
standing and an actual case or controversy that permits of a
decision in federal court; and third, whether the decision below is
unreviewable in this Court because it rests on an adequate and
independent state ground.
The first jurisdictional question is whether the Arizona Supreme
Court issued a final judgment in the case. It granted plaintiffs a
declaratory judgment that the state law governing mineral leases is
invalid, but then remanded the case for the trial court to
determine "just what further relief is appropriate." 155 Ariz., at
498, 747 P.2d at 1197. The Solicitor General, representing the
United States as amicus,
asserts that the validity of
existing leases remains at issue, and that the trial court may yet
decide to uphold the leases on the ground that they were made for
"true value," and thus are in "substantial conformity" with the
provisions of the Enabling Act, § 28, 36 Stat. 574-575, even though
the leasing procedures did not comply with every specific
requirement in the Act. Brief for United States as Amicus
10-14 (hereafter Brief for United States).
If the assertion were correct, the judgment below would not yet
be final within the meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1257, and we would lack
jurisdiction in the case. But it is not correct. Respondents
originally sought a declaratory judgment that the state law is
invalid, an injunction against further leases, and an accounting
and payment of sums due under past leases; but they withdrew the
last request on appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court. See
Brief for Appellant in Kadish v. Arizona State Land Dept.,
CV-86-0238-T, p. 6, n. 3, p. 40.
Page 490 U. S. 612
Thus, on remand, the trial court does not have before it any
federal question whether past and current leases are valid because
they were made in "substantial conformity" with the terms of the
Enabling Act. And, of course, the trial court's further actions
cannot affect the Arizona Supreme Court's ruling that § 27-234(B)
is invalid. Accordingly, the judgment below comes within two of the
exceptions to the finality requirement that were set out in Cox
Broadcasting Corp. v. Cohn, 420 U. S. 469
(1975). Here "the federal issue is conclusive" and "the outcome of
further proceedings preordained." Id.
at 420 U. S. 479
see also Duquesne Light Co. v. Barasch, 488 U.
(1989). In addition, the "federal questions
that could come here have been adjudicated by the State court,'"
and the remaining issues, contrary to the Solicitor General's
suggestion, will not give rise to any further federal question.
Cox, supra, at 420 U. S. 480,
quoting Radio Station WOW, Inc. v. Johnson, 326 U.
S. 120, 326 U. S. 127
The second jurisdictional issue is of some theoretical import,
though infrequent in occurrence. The question is whether, under
federal standards, the case was nonjusticiable at its outset
because the original plaintiffs lacked standing to sue; and if so,
whether we may examine justiciability at this stage because the
Arizona courts heard the case and proceeded to judgment, a judgment
which causes concrete injury to the parties who seek now for the
first time to invoke the authority of the federal courts in the
The United States contends that the case should be dismissed for
lack of standing, since neither respondent taxpayers nor respondent
teachers association, who were the original plaintiffs, would have
satisfied the requirements for bringing suit in federal court at
"In essence the question of standing is whether the litigant is
entitled to have the court decide the merits of the dispute or of
particular issues. "
Page 490 U. S. 613
"Warth v. Seldin, 422 U. S. 490
, 422 U. S.
(1975). Although standing in its outer dimensions is
a prudential concept to be shaped by the decisions of the courts as
a matter of sound judicial policy and subject to the control of
Congress, at its core it becomes a constitutional question; for
standing in its most basic aspect can be one of the controlling
elements in the definition of a case or controversy under Article
III. See Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for
Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U. S.
, 454 U. S. 471
at 454 U. S. 490
J., dissenting). The standing of respondents if they had filed suit
in federal court at the trial level may be resolved by applying
well-settled principles of federal law."
The question whether taxpayers or citizens have a sufficient
personal stake to challenge laws of general application where their
own injury is not distinct from that suffered in general by other
taxpayers or citizens covers old and familiar ground. As an
ordinary matter, suits premised on federal taxpayer status are not
cognizable in the federal courts because a taxpayer's
"interest in the moneys of the Treasury . . . is shared with
millions of others, is comparatively minute and indeterminable; and
the effect upon future taxation, of any payments out of the funds,
so remote, fluctuating and uncertain, that no basis is afforded for
Frothingham v. Mellon, 262 U.
, 262 U. S. 487
(1923) (decided with Massachusetts v. Mellon
We have indicated that the same conclusion may not hold for
municipal taxpayers, if it has been shown that the "peculiar
relation of the corporate taxpayer to the [municipal] corporation"
makes the taxpayer's interest in the application of municipal
revenues "direct and immediate." Frothingham, supra,
262 U. S.
-487, citing Crampton v. Zabriskie,
101 U. S. 601
101 U. S. 609
(1880). Yet we have likened state taxpayers to federal taxpayers,
and thus we have refused to confer standing upon a state taxpayer
absent a showing of "direct injury,"
Page 490 U. S. 614
pecuniary or otherwise. Doremus v. Board of Education of
Hawthorne, 342 U. S. 429
342 U. S. 429
No such showing has been made in this case, and respondent
taxpayers do not allege any special circumstances or exceptions
that would confer standing upon them. Instead, they have simply
asserted that the Arizona statute governing mineral leases has
"deprived the school trust funds of millions of dollars, thereby
resulting in unnecessarily higher taxes." Complaint � III. Even if
the first part of that assertion were correct, however, it is pure
speculation whether the lawsuit would result in any actual tax
relief for respondents. If they were to prevail, it is conceivable
that more money might be devoted to education; but since education
in Arizona is not financed solely from the school trust fund, Tr.
or Oral Arg. 8-10, the State might reduce its supplement from the
general funds to provide for other programs. The possibility that
taxpayers will receive any direct pecuniary relief from this
lawsuit is "remote, fluctuating and uncertain," as stated in
at 262 U. S. 487
and consequently the claimed injury is not "likely to be redressed
by a favorable decision," Valley Forge, supra,
454 U. S.
The same flaw defeats the claim that the teachers association
would have had standing to bring this suit originally in federal
court. The association and its members contend that the state law
"imposes an adverse economic impact" on them. Complaint � IV. Yet
even if invalidation of the state law would create increased
revenue for the school trust funds in the near future, an issue
much disputed here, the allegations of economic harm rest on the
same hypothetical assumptions as do the taxpayer claims. If
respondents prevailed and increased revenues from state leases were
available, maybe taxes would be reduced, or maybe the State would
reduce support from other sources so that the money available for
schools would be unchanged. Even if the State were to devote more
money to schools, it does not follow that there would be an
increase in teacher salaries or benefits. These
Page 490 U. S. 615
policy decisions might be made in different ways by the
governing officials, depending on their perceptions of wise state
fiscal policy and myriad other circumstances. Whether the
association's claims of economic injury would be redressed by a
favorable decision in this case depends on the unfettered choices
made by independent actors not before the courts, and whose
exercise of broad and legitimate discretion the courts cannot
presume either to control or to predict. We have much less
confidence in concluding that relief is likely to follow from a
favorable decision here than we had in cases like Allen v.
Wright, 468 U. S. 737
(1984), and Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights
Organization, 426 U. S. 26
(1976), where standing was found to be lacking because the probable
response of private individuals to explicit tax incentives was
judged to be too uncertain to satisfy the redressability prong of
federal standing requirements.
Petitioners also argue that the "likelihood" of a redressable
injury is increased once it is recognized that the claims of the
taxpayers and the teachers association rest upon independent
contingencies. The implication is that the Court should cumulate
the probabilities, in the event that plaintiffs prevail, of either
the taxpayers' receiving direct relief from the increased revenues
or the teachers' receiving indirect economic benefit from higher
funding for schools. Reply Brief for Petitioners 14-15. This line
of reasoning evokes two responses. First, it does not avoid the
fundamental problem that the courts are unable to evaluate with any
assurance the "likelihood" that decisions will be made a certain
way by policymaking officials acting within their broad and
legitimate discretion. Second, the doctrine of standing to sue is
not a kind of gaming device that can be surmounted merely by
aggregating the allegations of different kinds of plaintiffs, each
of whom may have claims that are remote or speculative taken by
themselves. Instead, the basic inquiry, for each
seeking to invoke the authority of the federal courts, Warth,
at 422 U. S.
-499, is whether that party alleges personal
Page 490 U. S. 616
injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct and
likely to be redressed by the requested relief. Valley
454 U.S. at 454 U. S.
When the allegations of economic injury are put to one side, the
claims made by both the taxpayers and the teachers association
reduce to something like the association's contention that the
state law undermines "the quality of education in Arizona."
Complaint � IV. We cannot say with any certainty that this
contention is even likely to be correct. The claims raised here,
moreover, are the kind of generalized grievances brought by
concerned citizens that we have consistently held are not
cognizable in the federal courts. See Los Angeles v.
Lyons, 461 U. S. 95
461 U. S.
-112 (1983); Valley Forge, supra,
454 U. S.
-487; Sierra Club v. Morton, 405 U.
, 405 U. S.
-740 (1972); see also
Reservists Comm. to Stop the War, 418 U.
S. 208 (1974);
United States v. Richardson,
418 U. S. 166
Our precedents demonstrate that a party may establish standing
by raising claims of noneconomic injury, see, e.g., Gladstone,
Realtors v. Village of Bellwood, 441 U. S.
(1979); Trafficante v. Metropolitan Life Ins.
Co., 409 U. S. 205
(1972); but claims of injury that are purely abstract, even if they
might be understood to lead to "the psychological consequence
presumably produced by observation of conduct with which one
disagrees," Valley Forge, supra,
at 454 U. S. 485
do not provide the kind of particular, direct, and concrete injury
that is necessary to confer standing to sue in the federal courts.
Although the members of the teachers association might argue that
they have a special interest in the quality of education in
Arizona, such a special interest does not alone confer federal
standing. Cf. Sierra Club, supra,
at 405 U. S.
-740. The argument does not succeed in distinguishing
the members in this regard from students, their parents, or various
Our review discloses no basis on which to find that respondents
would satisfy the requirements for federal standing
Page 490 U. S. 617
articulated by our precedents. It follows that the suit would
have been dismissed at the outset, were the federal rule to
But the state judiciary here chose a different path, as was
their right, and took no account of federal standing rules in
letting the case go to final judgment in the Arizona courts. That
result properly follows from the allocation of authority in the
federal system. We have recognized often that the constraints of
Article III do not apply to state courts, and accordingly the state
courts are not bound by the limitations of a case or controversy or
other federal rules of justiciability, even when they address
issues of federal law, as when they are called upon to interpret
the Constitution or, in this case, a federal statute. See,
e.g., Pennell v. San Jose, 485 U. S. 1
485 U. S. 8
(1988); Lyons, supra,
at 461 U. S. 113
342 U.S. at 342 U. S. 434
Secretary of State of Md. v. J. H. Munson Co.,
467 U. S. 947
467 U. S. 971
(1984) (STEVENS, J., concurring); Bateman v. Arizona,
U.S. 1302, 1305 (1976) (REHNQUIST, J., in chambers); cf.
Highland Farms Dairy, Inc. v. Agnew, 300 U.
, 300 U. S. 612
Although the state courts are not bound to adhere to federal
standing requirements, they possess the authority, absent a
provision for exclusive federal jurisdiction, to render binding
judicial decisions that rest on their own interpretations of
federal law. See
28 U.S.C. § 1738; Grubb v. Public
Utilities Comm'n of Ohio, 281 U. S. 470
(1930). Indeed, inferior federal courts are not required to exist
under Article III, and the Supremacy Clause explicitly states that
"the Judges in every State shall be bound" by federal law.
U.S.Const., Art. VI, cl. 2.
The question now arises whether a judgment rendered by the state
courts in these circumstances can support jurisdiction in this
Court to review the case. At this juncture, petitioners allege a
specific injury stemming from the state court decree, a decree
which rests on principles of federal law.
Page 490 U. S. 618
Petitioners insist that, as a result of the state court
judgment, the case has taken on such definite shape that they are
under a defined and specific legal obligation, one which causes
them direct injury.
We agree. Although respondents would not have had standing to
commence suit in federal court based on the allegations in the
complaint, they are not the party attempting to invoke the federal
judicial power. Instead, it is petitioners, the defendants in the
case and the losing parties below, who bring the case here, and
thus seek entry to the federal courts for the first time in the
lawsuit. We determine that petitioners have standing to invoke the
authority of a federal court, and that this dispute now presents a
justiciable case or controversy for resolution here.
Petitioners hold mineral leases that were granted under the
state law the Arizona Supreme Court invalidated. Although no
accounting of sums due under these leases remains at issue in this
particular case, it is undisputed that the decision to be reviewed
poses a serious and immediate threat to the continuing validity of
those leases by virtue of its holding that they were granted under
improper procedures and an invalid law. The state proceedings ended
in a declaratory judgment adverse to petitioners, an adjudication
of legal rights which constitutes the kind of injury cognizable in
this Court on review from the state courts. See, e.g.,
Nashville, C. & St. L. R. Co. v. Wallace, 288 U.
, 288 U. S.
-265 (1933). Petitioners are faced with "actual or
threatened injury" that is sufficiently "distinct and palpable" to
support their standing to invoke the authority of a federal court.
422 U.S. at 422 U. S. 500
422 U. S.
Petitioners contend before us that the Arizona Supreme Court's
decision rests on an erroneous interpretation of federal statutes.
They claim that the declaratory judgment sought and secured by
respondents, along with the relief that may flow from that ruling,
is invalid under federal law. If we were to agree with petitioners,
our reversal of the decision
Page 490 U. S. 619
below would remove its disabling effects upon them. In these
circumstances, we conclude that petitioners meet each prong of the
constitutional standing requirements. As the parties first invoking
the authority of the federal courts, they have shown that they
"personally ha[ve] suffered some actual or threatened injury as
a result of the putatively illegal conduct of the [other party] . .
. and that the injury 'fairly can be traced to the challenged
action' and 'is likely to be redressed by a favorable
454 U.S. at 454 U. S. 472
(citations omitted). In addition, petitioners' standing to invoke
the authority of this Court is not affected by any of the
prudential limitations that have been identified in prior cases.
at 454 U. S.
-475. Indeed, the United States appears to recognize
the force of these points. See
Brief for United States 20,
n. 14 ("[I]n light of the decision below, [petitioners] may now
have standing" to invoke the authority of a federal court).
We also conclude that "the record shows the existence of a
genuine case or controversy essential to the exercise of the
jurisdiction of this Court." Tileston v. Ullman,
318 U. S. 44
318 U. S. 46
(1943). These parties remain adverse, and "valuable legal rights .
. . will be directly affected to a specific and substantial degree
by the decision of the question of law." Wallace,
at 288 U. S. 262
We are not confronted, certainly, with parties
"attempting to secure an abstract determination by the Court of
the validity of a statute . . . or a decision advising what the law
would be on an uncertain or hypothetical state of facts,"
as might be the case, for example, if
petitioners were seeking review of an advisory opinion rendered
through specific mechanisms for obtaining a hypothetical ruling
from a state court or other state official. The proceedings here
were judicial in nature, and resulted in a final judgment altering
tangible legal rights. This proceeding constitutes a cognizable
case or controversy. Cf. In re Summers, 325 U.
, 325 U. S.
Page 490 U. S. 620
Although petitioners satisfy the requirements of federal
standing and present an actual case or controversy for decision
here, the United States contends that this showing is insufficient
to support our jurisdiction. The Government suggests that the
appropriate order is dismissal, and that petitioners are then free
"to bring a declaratory judgment action in federal court" raising
these same claims. Brief for United States 20, n. 14. Petitioners
counter that, if the Court finds it cannot review the judgment on
the merits, the proper course is to vacate the judgment below and
remand for appropriate further proceedings, Tr. of Oral Arg. 13-15,
as we have done at least on some occasions when a case becomes moot
while it is pending on review from a state court, see, e.g.,
DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U. S. 312
416 U. S. 320
(1974). Neither disposition is appropriate here.
If we were to vacate the judgment below on the ground that
respondents lacked federal standing when they brought suit
initially, that disposition would render nugatory the entire
proceedings in the state courts. The clear effect would be to
impose federal standing requirements on the state courts whenever
they adjudicate issues of federal law, if those judgments are to be
conclusive on the parties. That result, however, would be contrary
to established traditions and to our prior decisions recognizing
that the state courts are not bound by Article III, and yet have it
within both their power and their proper role to render binding
judgments on issues of federal law, subject only to review by this
In addition, we doubt it would be a proper exercise of our
authority to vacate the state court's judgment in these
circumstances. It would be an unacceptable paradox to exercise
jurisdiction to confirm that we lack it, and then to interfere with
a State's sovereign power by vacating a judgment rendered within
its own proper authority. This case is not one committed to the
exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts. We have no authority
to grant a writ only to announce
Page 490 U. S. 621
that, solely because we may not review a case, the state court
lacked power to decide it in the first instance. [Footnote 1
If we were merely to dismiss this case and leave the judgment
below undisturbed, a different set of problems would ensue.
Although the judgment of a state court on issues of federal law
normally binds the parties in any future suit, even if that suit is
brought separately in federal court, we have occasionally cautioned
that such a judgment may well not bind the parties if the state
court's conclusions about federal law were not subject to any
federal review. See, e.g., Doremus,
342 U.S. at
342 U. S. 434
("[W]e cannot accept . . . as the basis for conclusive disposition
of an issue of federal law without review, any procedure which does
not constitute" a case or controversy); Minnesota v. National
Tea Co., 309 U. S. 551
309 U. S. 557
(1940) (this Court is responsible for assuring "that state courts
will not be the final arbiters of important issues under the
federal constitution"); Fidelity Nat. Bank &
Page 490 U. S. 622
Co. of Kansas City v. Swope, 274 U.
, 274 U. S.
-131 (1927) (proceeding in state court is res
if "the constitutional rights asserted, or which
might have been asserted in that proceeding, could eventually have
been reviewed here"). The predominant interest promoted by this
apparent exception to normal preclusion doctrines is to assure that
the binding application of federal law is uniform, and ultimately
subject to control by this Court. See Richardson v.
Ramirez, 418 U. S. 24
418 U. S. 42
13 (1974) (this Court may review a declaratory judgment granted by
a state court, for "any other conclusion would unnecessarily permit
a state court of last resort, quite contrary to the intention of
Congress in enacting 28 U.S.C. § 1257, to invalidate state
legislation on federal constitutional grounds without any
possibility of state officials who were adversely affected by the
decision seeking review in this Court").
Given the likelihood that dismissal in this case would defeat
the normal preclusive effects of the state court's judgment,
however, the effect again would be to impose federal standing
requirements on a state court that sought to render a binding
decision on issues of federal law. It also would denigrate the
authority of the state courts by creating a peculiar anomaly in the
normal channels of appellate review. The Rooker-Feldman
doctrine interprets 28 U.S.C. § 1257 as ordinarily barring direct
review in the lower federal courts of a decision reached by the
highest state court, for such authority is vested solely in this
Court. District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman,
460 U. S. 462
(1983); Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Locomotive
Engineers, 398 U. S. 281
398 U. S. 296
(1970); Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.
, 263 U. S.
-416 (1923). The United States urges that the proper
course for petitioners is to sue in federal trial court in order to
readjudicate the very same issues that were determined in the state
court proceedings below. Brief for United States 20, n. 14. That
action, in essence, would be an attempt to obtain direct review of
the Arizona Supreme Court's decision
Page 490 U. S. 623
in the lower federal courts, and would represent a partial
inroad on Rooker-Feldman's
construction of 28 U.S.C. §
For these reasons, we believe it would be inappropriate to
dismiss the case at this stage. [Footnote 2
] That disposition would come at the cost of
much disrespect to state court proceedings and judgments. It also
would require petitioners to commence a new action in federal court
to vindicate their rights under federal law, even though right now
they present us with a case or controversy that is justiciable
under federal standards. Cf. Wallace,
288 U.S. at
288 U. S.
-263 (a justiciable controversy is not "any the less
so because through a modified procedure appellant has been
permitted to present it in the state courts"). Instead, we adopt
the following rationale for our decision on this jurisdictional
point: when a state court has issued a judgment in a case where
plaintiffs in the original action had no standing to sue under the
principles governing the federal courts, we may exercise our
jurisdiction on certiorari if the judgment of the state court
Page 490 U. S. 624
specific, and concrete injury to the parties who petition for
our review, where the requisites of a case or controversy are also
We are not unmindful of the paradox that would result if
respondents (plaintiffs below) prevail on the merits, for then they
will have succeeded in obtaining a federal determination here that
would have been unavailable if the action had been filed initially
in federal court. Nonetheless, although federal standing "often
turns on the nature and source of the claim asserted," it "in no
way depends on the merits of the [claim]." Warth,
at 422 U. S. 500
The rule we adopt is necessary in deference to the States and in
response to the petitioning parties who seek this forum to redress
a real and current injury stemming from the application of federal
We therefore conclude that we may properly decide this case.
Petitioners meet the requirements for federal standing under
Because they are the parties first invoking
the authority of the federal courts in this case, and an actual
case or controversy is before the Court, there is no jurisdictional
bar to review. In these circumstances, and having already granted
review, we believe the proper course is not to dismiss the case or
to vacate the judgment below, but to undertake review of the
federal issues on their merits.
The last threshold procedural issue concerns the possibility
that the decision below rested on an adequate and independent state
ground that would defeat review of the federal issues by this
Court. See, e.g., Fox Film Corp. v. Muller, 296 U.
, 296 U. S. 210
(1935). Here the state court mentioned the State Constitution
several times in its opinion, but otherwise relied exclusively on
federal law, including an extended discussion of the applicable
federal statutes and their legislative histories. 155 Ariz., at
486-487, 747 P.2d at 1185-1186. In its conclusion, however, the
Arizona Supreme Court directed the trial court "to enter a judgment
Page 490 U. S. 625
A.R.S. § 27-234 unconstitutional and invalid as it pertains to
nonhydrocarbon mineral leases." Id.
at 498, 747 P.2d at
We conclude that the opinion below is not based on an adequate
and independent state ground. Its discussion focuses solely on the
federal statutes, and the State Constitution is never mentioned on
its own apart from the Enabling Act. The Arizona Supreme Court
explicitly considered itself "bound to adopt the construction
advanced by [plaintiffs]" based on the prior decisions of this
Court, and described Article 10 of the Arizona Constitution as
simply a "rescript" of § 28 of the Enabling Act. Id.
495-496, 747 P.2d at 1194-1195. In light of this description, the
references to the Arizona Constitution simply reflect a holding
which rests on the state court's interpretation of federal law.
Although the Arizona Supreme Court was free to rest its holding on
the State Constitution as an independent ground, the decision below
did not divorce the state constitutional issue from the questions
of federal law. See Enterprise Irrigation Dist. v. Canal
Co., 243 U. S. 157
243 U. S. 164
(1917); see also
155 Ariz., at 495, 747 P.2d at 1194 ("The
Enabling Act is the fundamental and paramount law' in Arizona,"
quoting Murphy v. State, 65 Ariz. 338, 345, 181 P.2d 336,
In sum, we do not lack jurisdiction to review the decision
The issue on the merits is whether Arizona may lease mineral
lands granted from the United States without meeting the specific
requirements imposed by federal statute. We begin with a more
detailed review of the statutes in question.
In 1910, Congress passed the New Mexico-Arizona Enabling Act, 36
Stat. 557, which authorized the people of those Territories to form
state governments. Among its other provisions, the Enabling Act
granted Arizona certain lands within every township for the support
of public schools. Congress provided, however, that the new State
Page 490 U. S. 626
those granted lands in trust and subject to the specific
conditions set out in § 28 of the Act, 36 Stat. 574-575. Under the
conditions, the granted lands could not be sold or leased except to
the highest bidder at a public auction following notice by
advertisements in two newspapers weekly for 10 weeks. Leases for a
term of five years or less were exempt from the advertising
requirement. Lands could not be sold or leased for less than the
values set by an appraisal required by the statute. All proceeds
derived from the lands would go to a permanent segregated fund, and
interest, but not principal, was to be spent for support of public
schools. Arizona incorporated those restrictions in its proposed
constitution, Ariz. Const., Art. 10, and was admitted to the Union
The grant of lands in the Enabling Act specifically excluded
mineral lands, §§ 6, 24, 36 Stat. 561-562, 572, but this gave rise
to uncertainty about what are known as "unknown" mineral lands,
those lands on which minerals were not discovered until after the
grant. In two subsequent decisions, this Court held that the
exclusion applied only to lands known to be mineral at the time of
the grant, and that unknown mineral lands were granted under the
Act. Wyoming v. United States, 255 U.
, 255 U. S.
-501 (1921); United States v. Sweet,
245 U. S. 563
245 U. S.
-573 (1918). These holdings in turn spawned numerous
disputes over whether lands were known to be mineral at the time
they were granted from the Federal Government. See, e.g., Work
v. Braffet, 276 U. S. 560
276 U. S.
-563 (1928). Title to lands in many Western States
was in doubt, and the issue became more difficult to prove as the
years passed. Accordingly, in 1927, Congress passed the Jones Act,
44 Stat. 1026, a brief statute that extended the terms of the
original grant of lands in the Western States to encompass mineral
lands as well. Congress also has amended the Enabling Act twice,
each time to clarify the procedures for leasing granted lands for
specific purposes. See
Act of June 5, 1936, ch. 517, 49
Stat. 1477; Act of June 2, 1951, 65 Stat. 51.
Page 490 U. S. 627
Arizona's own law governing the leasing of state mineral lands,
enacted in 1941, requires every such lease to "provide for payment
to the state by the lessee of a royalty of five per cent of the net
value of the minerals produced from the claim." Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann.
§ 27-234(B) (Supp.1988). But it does not require those lands to be
advertised or appraised before they are leased, and does not
require the lands to be leased at their full appraised value. The
lands in question here were granted to Arizona either in 1910, by
the terms of the Enabling Act itself, or in 1927, under the Jones
The grant of all lands under the Enabling Act is conditioned, by
the statute's clear language, upon the specified requirements for
leasing or selling those lands. The Act declares that
"all lands hereby granted . . . shall be by the said State held
in trust, to be disposed of in whole or in part only in the
manner as herein provided,
. . . and that the natural products
and money proceeds of any of said lands shall be subject to the
same trusts as the lands producing the same."
§ 28, 36 Stat. 574, 575 (emphasis added).
"Disposition of any of said lands, or of any money or thing of
value directly or indirectly derived therefrom, . . . in any manner
contrary to the provisions of this Act, shall be deemed a breach of
Any such disposition is expressly stated to be "null and void"
unless "made in substantial conformity with the provisions of this
And again, the requirements set forth in the
Act apply to "[a]ll lands, leaseholds, timber, and other products
of land." Ibid.
Petitioner cites Neel v. Barker,
27 N.M. 605, 204 P.
205 (1922), as standing for the proposition that, because mineral
lands originally were exempted by Congress from the grant made in
the Enabling Act, its provisions for the sale or lease of granted
lands did not apply to those lands later determined to be mineral
in nature. That proposition, never tested in a federal court, is
flawed in two respects. First, in Wyoming v. United States,
decided the year before but not mentioned
Page 490 U. S. 628
or discussed in Neel,
this Court held that unknown
mineral lands were
within the grant made by Congress.
Second, since those lands were granted to the States under the
authority of the Enabling Act itself, they could not be regarded as
unburdened by its mandatory conditions. In consequence, the New
Mexico Supreme Court erred in concluding that, because
"Congress did not intend to grant to the state any mineral lands
. . . it follows that the state is not controlled nor restricted by
said act in regard to leasing said lands for mineral purposes."
27 N.M. at 611, 204 P., at 207. All the lands granted under the
Act are granted subject to its conditions. [Footnote 3
The lands granted under the Jones Act are subject to the same
conditions. This very brief enactment was passed to address the
continuing problems associated with the dual regime, under which
the adjudication of title to lands would depend on whether they
were known to be mineral at the time the Federal Government granted
them. H.R.Rep. No. 1761, 69th Cong., 2d Sess., 2-3 (1927); S.Rep.
No. 603, 69th Cong., 1st Sess., 1-6 (1926). Indeed, its formal
title was: "An Act Confirming in States and Territories title to
lands granted by the United States in the aid of common or public
schools." 44 Stat. 1026. The Jones Act resolved the problem of the
dual regime by simply "extend[ing]" the prior grants of lands "to
embrace numbered school sections mineral in character." § 1, 44
Stat. 1026. The statute explicitly stated that
"the grant of numbered mineral sections under
Page 490 U. S. 629
this Act shall be of the same effect as prior grants for the
numbered non-mineral sections.
§ 1(a), 44 Stat. 1026 (emphasis added).
Petitioners make two points about the proper reading of this
statute. First, they argue that the "same effect" language was
intended only to assure that the title to these lands passed and
vested in the same manner and with the same validity as did the
title to lands granted under the Enabling Act, but said nothing
about the conditions upon which those lands were granted. Second,
they argue that the language of § 1(b) of the Jones Act granted the
States a broad authority to lease the mineral deposits in the newly
granted lands "by the State as the State legislature may
Page 490 U. S. 630
direct," with "the proceeds of rentals and royalties therefrom
to be utilized for the support or in aid of the common or public
schools." 44 Stat. 1026-1027. According to petitioners, therefore,
the Jones Act did not impose the same restrictions on mineral lands
as did the Enabling Act; on the contrary, it explicitly repudiated
any such restrictions on the newly granted lands.
We do not agree with this reading of the Jones Act. First, the
suggested interpretation of the "same effect" language would render
that language redundant: the statute continues immediately with an
additional clause that directly addresses the "vest[ing]" of
"titles to such numbered mineral sections." § 1(a), 44 Stat. 1026.
Instead, we believe that the "same effect" language has independent
meaning, and that it achieved Congress' stated objective of
"extend[ing]" the 1910 grants to encompass all mineral lands and of
"[c]onfirming" title to such lands in the States. 44 Stat.
Second, the language of § 1(b) does not undermine the conclusion
that § 1(a) of the Jones Act extended the coverage of the Enabling
Act's express restrictions as well as of its grant of lands.
Section 1(b) says that, though the mineral lands may be sold, the
rights to mine and remove the minerals themselves are reserved to
the State, and may only be leased. Such leases may be undertaken
"as the State legislature may direct." Petitioners would read §
1(b) as containing the sole dispositional restrictions on the newly
granted lands, and would read the latter passage as a blanket
authority for the States to lease minerals on whatever terms they
wish to set, as long as the proceeds of those leases go to the
This interpretation suffers from several defects. To begin with,
it does not offer a comprehensive understanding of the statutory
regime. Section 1(b) contains no dispositional restrictions on the
sale or lease of the newly granted lands except for the provision
that the mineral rights on those lands are reserved to the State.
If the "same effect" language in § 1(a) does not extend the
dispositional restrictions in the Enabling Act to the lands granted
in the Jones Act, then those lands are subject to no dispositional
restrictions at all, though their mineral rights would be reserved.
This is inconsistent with the view that the lands granted under the
Jones Act are part of the school trust. Similarly, if the "as the
State legislature may direct" language is the blanket authority for
which petitioners contend, it would allow minerals to be leased for
little or no royalty, and thus would leave room for all the abuses
that the establishment of a school trust was designed to
Perhaps the most fundamental defect of the interpretation urged
by petitioners is that it would largely perpetuate the dual regime
that Congress sought to eliminate by enacting the Jones Act. Under
that interpretation, the restrictions in the Enabling Act would
continue to apply to unknown mineral lands, but would not apply to
known mineral lands. As a result, for example, some of the leases
involved in this case might be proper, under the Jones Act, while
others would be improper, under the Enabling Act, and the critical
difference would rest on a determination, to be made at some future
point, whether those lands were known to be mineral in 1910. This
is surely not the resolution Congress intended when it
Page 490 U. S. 631
passed this statute, and it is neither a sensible nor an
appealing one. [Footnote 4
In addition, the "as the State legislature may direct" language
is not inconsistent with the express restrictions set forth in the
Enabling Act. Given the preceding restrictions on the sale
of minerals in § 1(b), Congress may have thought it necessary to
emphasize that leases
were subject to no such novel
limitations; instead, the States retained all the authority given
under the conditional grants made in the Enabling Act. We thus
agree with the court below that this language is properly viewed as
authorizing the States to regulate the methods by which mineral
leases are made, and to specify any additional terms in those
leases that are thought necessary or desirable, as long as the
leases comply with the dispositional requirements set forth in the
Enabling Act. See
155 Ariz. at 491, 747 P.2d at 1190. But
this language, in and of itself, does not dispense with those
restrictions. [Footnote 5
Both sides place a great deal of emphasis on the later
amendments to the Enabling Act, which occurred in 1936 and
Page 490 U. S. 632
1951. We think that the language of the original grants of these
lands to Arizona is the decisive basis for decision here, and that
subsequent amendments are, at best, only illustrative of how a
later Congress read the original terms of the statute. Congress
could not, for instance, grant lands to a State on certain specific
conditions and then later, after the conditions had been met and
the lands vested, succeed in upsetting settled expectations through
a belated effort to render those conditions more onerous. Congress
could relax the conditions upon which lands had been granted
previously, of course, but we see nothing in the later amendments
here to suggest that it has done so. Instead, the later amendments
are wholly consistent with the view that Congress granted these
lands in 1910 and 1927 subject to the conditions discussed
previously, and has never removed those conditions. [Footnote 6
] In both the 1936 and the 1951
amendments, Congress reiterated the formulation that the lands
could be leased for certain purposes as the state legislature "may
direct," Act of June 5, 1936, ch. 517, 49 Stat. 1477, and as it
"may prescribe," Act of June 2, 1951, 65 Stat. 52. But the former
amendment did not alter the application of § 28 to "[a]ll lands . .
. and other products of land," which remained in a passage which
directly followed the "as the State legislature may direct"
language. And the latter amendment altered the application of § 28
in a manner that tends to confirm the interpretation adopted here:
extinguished the advertising, bidding, and
appraisal restrictions upon any leases
Page 490 U. S. 633
of these lands "for the exploration, development, and production
of oil, gas, and other hydrocarbon substances," 65 Stat. 52, though
not upon leases for other purposes, such as mineral leases. Thus,
the subsequent history of these statutes, to the extent it
indicates anything of significance, merely confirms that the
original restrictions upon the sale or lease of mineral lands
contained in the Enabling Act, and the Jones Act remain
undiminished in force.
"The Court's concern for the integrity of the conditions imposed
by the [Enabling Act] has long been evident." Alamo Land &
Cattle Co. v. Arizona, 424 U. S. 295
424 U. S. 302
(1976). We conclude that the sale or lease of mineral lands granted
to the State of Arizona under these federal statutes must
substantially conform to the mandatory requirements set out in the
Enabling Act. The court below was correct in declaring
Ariz.Rev.Stat.Ann. § 27-234(B) (Supp.1988) invalid as to
nonhydrocarbon mineral leases. The judgment of the Arizona Supreme
JUSTICE O'CONNOR took no part in the consideration or decision
of this case.
The Court's treatment of cases that become moot on review from
the lower federal courts, as distinct from those that become moot
on review from state courts, is illuminating on this point. In the
former situation, the settled disposition of a case that has become
entirely moot is for this Court to "vacate the judgment below and
remand with a direction to dismiss." United States v.
Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36
340 U. S. 39
(1950). The power to make that disposition is predicated on our
"supervisory power over the judgments of the lower federal courts,"
which "is a broad one." Id.
at 340 U. S. 40
the latter situation, on review of state judgments, the same
disposition is not made. Traditionally, where the entire case had
become moot, the Court vacated the judgment below and remanded for
such further proceedings as the state court might deem appropriate,
as in DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.
(1974), since the state courts, not bound by
Article III, were free to dispose of the case in a variety of ways,
including reinstatement of the judgment. More recently, however,
the regular practice in the latter situation has been to dismiss
the case and leave the judgment of the state court undisturbed,
which evinces a proper recognition that, in the absence of any live
case or controversy, we lack jurisdiction, and thus also the power
to disturb the state court's judgment. See, e.g., Kansas Gas
& Elec. Co. v. State Corp. Comm'n of Kan.,
481 U.S. 1044
(1987); Times-Picayune Pub. Corp. v. Schulingkamp,
U.S. 985 (1975).
None of the precedents cited by the parties, and none that we
have found, is squarely on point. In Secretary of State of Md.
v. Joseph H. Munson Co., 467 U. S. 947
(1984), the original defendant brought an appeal to defend the
constitutionality of a state statute declared unconstitutional by
the state court, but the Court began by evaluating the standing of
the original plaintiffs, as we do here, and found that they did
meet the requirements for federal standing, which obviated any
further inquiry. Id.
at 467 U. S.
-959. The same is not true in this case. In
Revere v. Massachusetts Gen. Hosp., 463 U.
(1983), the Court found that the original
plaintiff met the requirements imposed by Article III, and then
refused to invoke the prudential limitation of jus tertii,
at least in part so as to avoid any question of
"leaving intact the state court's judgment in favor of [the
original plaintiff], the purportedly improper representative of the
third party's constitutional rights."
at 463 U. S. 243
In Doremus v. Board Of Education of Hawthorne,
342 U. S. 429
(1952), an appeal brought from state court by a losing taxpayer
plaintiff was dismissed, because in that instance the party seeking
to invoke the authority of the federal courts was found to lack
standing, as would be true of the taxpayer plaintiffs in this case
as well. Id.
at 342 U. S.
-435. Yet here respondents are the injured parties
who seek to invoke the authority of this Court, and they meet the
federal standing requirements.
One possible distinction between mineral leases and the lease of
lands for other purposes is that mineral rights can be difficult to
appraise, which might make the Enabling Act's provisions less
helpful in this setting. But this Court recognized long ago that
such rights are subject to valuation in condemnation proceedings,
and that, whatever the difficulties may be in making such
appraisals with complete accuracy, it does not defeat the existence
of a "market value" in mineral rights, and it does not suffice as a
reason to depart from the ordinary requirements that the law
imposes on such transactions. Montana R. Co. v. Warren,
137 U. S. 348
137 U. S.
Under the reading of the Jones Act we adopt, there may still be
traces of the dual regime, though they are minimized. For example,
it might be argued that "the right to prospect for, mine, and
remove" minerals on unknown mineral lands can be sold, whereas
those same rights on known mineral lands cannot, since the Jones
Act's prohibition in this regard is limited to those lands in "the
additional grant made by this Act." § 1(b), 44 Stat. 1026. We need
not decide in this case, however, whether that reading of the
statute is fair or necessary.
In the wake of the enactment of the Jones Act in 1927, the
experience of New Mexico is instructive as a contemporaneous
reading of the statute. Concerned that the Act had undermined
whatever basis there might have been for the decision in Neel
27 N.M. 605, 204 P. 205 (1922), the New Mexico
government immediately petitioned Congress to authorize a state
plebiscite to codify its holding as law. In response, Congress
passed a joint resolution to that effect. Joint Resolution No. 7,
ch. 28, 45 Stat. 58. The language of the resolution explicitly
permitted New Mexico to waive the advertising, appraisal, and
bidding requirements on all mineral leases. This explicit language
was conspicuously absent from the Jones Act itself.
The decision in Lassen v. Arizona Highway Dept.,
385 U. S. 458
(1967), has no bearing on the issues raised in this case. In
the Court held that Arizona was not obliged to
follow the Enabling Act's specific requirements when it condemned
land for use in its highway program, seeing
"no need to read the Act to impose these restrictions on
transfers in which the abuses they were intended to prevent are not
likely to occur, and in which the trust may in another and more
effective fashion be assured full compensation."
at 385 U. S. 464
Unlike public condemnation proceedings, however, the private sales
and leases at issue here are precisely the kinds of transactions
addressed by the federal statutes. Ibid.
JUSTICE BRENNAN, with whom JUSTICE WHITE, JUSTICE MARSHALL, and
JUSTICE BLACKMUN join, concurring in part and concurring in the
I join all but Part II-B-l of the Court's opinion. I disagree
both with the view expressed in JUSTICE KENNEDY's opinion that the
plaintiffs below, particularly the Arizona Education Association,
had no standing, and also with the decision to reach that issue.
The Court holds in Part II-B-2 that the question whether the state
court plaintiffs had Article III standing is irrelevant when it is
the defendants below who now invoke the authority of the federal
courts. The discussion
Page 490 U. S. 634
of the standing question in Part II-B-l is therefore
CHIEF JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom JUSTICE SCALIA joins,
concurring in part and dissenting in part.
I join Part I of the Court's opinion, and I also agree with
JUSTICE KENNEDY's conclusion in Part II-B-1 that respondents,
plaintiffs below, have failed to show the sort of "injury in fact"
necessary to satisfy Article III standing requirements.
at 490 U. S.
-617. This requirement
"tends to assure that the legal questions presented . . . will
be resolved, not in the rarified atmosphere of a debating society,
but in a concrete factual context conducive to a realistic
appreciation of the consequences of judicial action."
Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for
Separation of Church & State, Inc., 454 U.
, 454 U. S. 472
(1982). For me, absence of standing disposes of this case and
requires dismissal of the appeal. Doremus v. Board of Education
of Hawthorne, 342 U. S. 429
we dismissed an appeal from state court by
taxpayers because they lacked standing. The Court now says that,
although the Doremus
case is good law for plaintiffs who
lack standing but lost in the state court on the merits of their
federal claim, it is not good law for such plaintiffs who prevailed
on the merits of their federal question in the state courts. The
fact that such a rule has a very one-sided application does not
necessarily mean it is wrong, but it should at least require a very
persuasive justification -- a more persuasive one than the Court
provides in its opinion.
The Court justifies the result it reaches by saying that the
state court judgment adverse to petitioners is itself a form of
"injury" which supplies Article III standing. The difficulty with
this explanation is that petitioners -- mineral lessees and
defendants in the courts below -- have always been able to show
that a judgment adverse to their position would "injure" them in a
very real sense. The defect in the state
Page 490 U. S. 635
court proceedings, so far as Article III standing is concerned,
was not that the proceedings did not threaten to injure
petitioners, but that the operation and enforcement of the
challenged statute did not injure plaintiffs-respondents. The
subsequent proceedings in the state court have obviously not cured
One could, of course, analogize the proceedings on certiorari in
this Court to the commencement of what might be called the federal
phase of the lawsuit, and say that, for such purpose, petitioners
are like the plaintiff filing a suit in the federal district court:
therefore, it is petitioners' standing, not that of respondents,
which should concern us at this stage of the litigation. Certainly
some of our mootness cases following United States v.
Munsingwear, Inc., 340 U. S. 36
(1950), indicate that, where a judgment entered in a lower federal
court no longer has a present effect on the parties, we will not
only not review the case, but we will direct the vacation of the
judgment of the lower courts. But while a present effect of the
judgment on the parties may be a necessary condition for continuing
federal jurisdiction, I do not believe that it is inevitably a
The Court's opinion makes much of the fact that "the record
shows the existence of a genuine case or controversy,'"
ante at 619, and that "[t]hese parties remain adverse. . .
." Ibid. But most of our case law limiting federal
standing does not depend on any conclusion that the parties were
not "adverse" or that there was no "genuine case or controversy" in
the lay sense of those terms. See Warth v. Seldin,
422 U. S. 490
(1975); Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for
Separation of Church & State, supra; DeFunis v. Odegaard,
416 U. S. 312
(1974); Linda R.S. v. Richard D., 410 U.
S. 614 (1973). In each of these cases, the parties were
emphatically adverse to one another and vigorously contended with
one another as to how the lawsuit should be decided. No one
suggested that the cases
Page 490 U. S. 636
were trumped up, or that they were "friendly suits." The
shortcoming in each of them was the failure of the plaintiffs to
establish actual injury to themselves as a result of the
governmental action which they sought to challenge on federal
grounds. To have considered their cases on the merits would have
required us to decide the questions presented "in the rarified
atmosphere of a debating society;" the plaintiffs had simply a
generalized grievance about governmental action which they claimed
was prohibited by federal statute or by the United States
Constitution. And that is really all that the Court has before it
in the present case.
The Court is concerned with the fact that if it applies
as sauce for the goose as well as for the gander,
state courts will remain free to decide important questions of
federal statutory and constitutional law without the possibility of
review in this Court. This is true, but I think it a rather
unremarkable proposition. Some state courts render advisory
decisions on federal law of no binding force, even within the
State. See, e.g.,
Mass. Const., Art. LXXXV (amending the
Massachusetts Constitution to provide that: "Each branch of the
legislature, as well as the governor or the council, shall have
authority to require the opinions of the justices of the supreme
judicial court, upon important questions of law, and upon solemn
occasions"); Mich. Const., Art. 3, § 8 ("Either house of the
legislature or the governor may request the opinion of the supreme
court on important questions of law upon solemn occasions as to the
constitutionality of legislation after it has been enacted into law
but before its effective date"). In each instance, the
interpretation of federal law may affect the governance of the
State, and thereby make some people better off and some worse off.
Yet none of these decisions of federal law is reviewable in this or
any other federal court. I see no reason to fear that our dismissal
of the present appeal would lead to a legal landscape in which we
would no longer have the opportunity to
Page 490 U. S. 637
review many important decisions on questions of federal law.
Therefore, I see no reason why this Court should bend its Article
III jurisprudence out of shape to avoid a largely imaginary