265 U.S. 472 (1924), 358, United States v. Title Insurance & Trust Company

Docket Nº:No. 358
Citation:265 U.S. 472, 44 S.Ct. 621, 68 L.Ed. 1110
Party Name:United States v. Title Insurance & Trust Company
Case Date:June 09, 1924
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 472

265 U.S. 472 (1924)

44 S.Ct. 621, 68 L.Ed. 1110

United States

v.

Title Insurance & Trust Company

No. 358

United States Supreme Court

June 9, 1924

Argued February 28, 1924

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Where there are two grounds upon either of which an appellate court may rest its decision, and it adopts both, the ruling on neither is obiter dictum, but each is the judgment of the court, and of equal validity. P. 486.

2. A longstanding decision of a doubtful question, which has become a rule of property affecting many land titles, should not be disturbed. Id.

3. The United States sued to establish a perpetual right of Mission Indians to use, occupy, and enjoy part of a confirmed Mexican land grant in California, claiming that the right originated before the grant was made, and had been asserted by open, notorious, and adverse occupancy ever since. The grant had long before been confirmed, and patented by the United States to defendants' predecessors, under the Act of March 3, 1851, c. 41, 9 Stat. 631, which provided for adjudication of private land claims by a commission, with review by the district court and this Court, and declared that claims not presented to the commission within two years should be deemed abandoned and that patents issued on confirmed claims should be conclusive between the United States and the claimants,l but should not "affect the interests of third persons." The claim of the Indians was never presented to the commission by them or by the United States on their behalf. Held, on the authority of Barker v. Harvey, 181 U.S. 481, that the claim of the Indians was abandoned. Id.

288 F. 821 affirmed.

Page 473

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court dismissing a bill to quiet title brought by the United States on behalf of certain Indians.

Page 481

VANDEVANTER, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE VAN DEVANTER delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit by the United States, as guardian of certain Mission Indians, to quiet in them a "perpetual right" to occupy, use, and enjoy a part of a confirmed Mexican land grant in Southern California for which the defendants hold a patent from the United States. The district court dismissed the bill as not showing a cause of action, and its decree was affirmed by the circuit court of appeals. 288 F. 821.

The grant was made by Mexico in 1843. After California was ceded to the United States, Congress, in 1851, passed an act providing for the ascertainment and adjudication of private land claims in the ceded territory. 9 Stat. 631, c. 41. The act created a commission to consider and pass on such claims; provided for a review in the district court of that district, and for a further review in this Court; required that the claims be presented to the commission within 2 years, in default of which they were to be regarded as abandoned; provided for the issue of patents on such as were confirmed, and declared the patents should be "conclusive between the United States and the said claimants," but should not "affect the interests of third persons." This grant was presented to the commission, and, after a [44 S.Ct. 622] hearing in which...

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