David Muskrat v. United States No 330 William Brown

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtDay
Citation55 L.Ed. 246,219 U.S. 346,31 S.Ct. 250
Decision Date01 July 1902
PartiesDAVID MUSKRAT and J. Henry Dick, on Their Own Behalf, etc., Appts., v. UNITED STATES. NO 330. WILLIAM BROWN and Levi B. Gritts, on Their Own Behalf, and on Behalf of All Other Cherokee Citizens Having Like Interest in the Property Allotted under the Act of

219 U.S. 346
31 S.Ct. 250
55 L.Ed. 246
DAVID MUSKRAT and J. Henry Dick, on Their Own Behalf, etc., Appts.,

v.

UNITED STATES. NO 330. WILLIAM BROWN and Levi B. Gritts, on Their Own Behalf, and on Behalf of All Other Cherokee Citizens Having Like Interest in the Property Allotted under the Act of July 1, 1902, Appts., v. UNITED STATES. NO 331.

Nos. 330, 331.

Argued November 30 and December 1 and 2, 1910.

Decided January 23, 1911.

[Syllabus from pages 346-348 intentionally omitted]

Page 348

Messrs. Daniel B. Henderson, John J. Hemphill, William H. Robeson, and Frank J. Boudinot for appellants.

Messrs. Wade H. Ellis and Henry E. Colton for appellees.

Mr. William W. Hastings for the Cherokee Nation.

Messrs. S. T. Bledsoe and Evans Browne as amici curiae.

Mr. Charles West, in behalf of the state of Oklahoma.

Mr. Justice Day delivered the opinion of the court:

These cases arise under an act of Congress undertaking to confer jurisdiction upon the court of claims, and upon this court, on appeal, to determine the validity of certain acts of Congress hereinafter referred to.

Case No. 330 was brought by David Muskrat and J. Henry Dick, in their own behalf, and in behalf of others in a like situation, to determine the constitutional validity of the act of Congress of April 26, 1906 (34 Stat. at L. 137, chap. 1876), as amended by the act of June 21, 1906 (34 Stat. at L. 325, et seq., chap. 3504), and to have the same declared invalid in so far as the same undertook to increase the number of persons entitled to share in the final distribution of lands and funds of the Cherokees beyond those enrolled on September 1, 1902, in accordance with the act of Congress passed July 1, 1902 (32 Stat. at L. 716-720, 721, chap. 1375). The

Page 349

acts subsequent to that of July 1, 1902, have the effect to increase the number of persons entitled to participate in the division of the Cherokee lands and funds, by permitting the enrolment of children who were minors, living on March 4, 1906, whose parents had theretofore been enrolled as members of the Cherokee tribe, or had applications pending for that purpose.

Case No. 331 was brought by Brown and Gritts on their own behalf and on behalf of other Cherokee citizens having a like interest in the property allotted under the act of July 1, 1902 (32 Stat. at L. 716, chap. 1375). Under this act, Brown and Gritts received allotments. The subsequent act of March 11, 1904 (33 Stat. at L. 65, chap. 505, U. S. Comp. Stat. Supp. 1909, p. 638), empowered the Secretary of the Interior to grant rights of way for pipe lines over lands allotted to Indians under certain regulations. Another act, that of April 26, 1906 (34 Stat. at L. 137, chap. 1876), purported to extend to a period of twenty-five years the time within which full-blooded Indians of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole tribes were forbidden to alienate, sell, dispose of, or encumber certain of their lands.

The object of the petition of Brown and Gritts was to have the subsequent legislation of 1904 and 1906 declared to be unconstitutional and void, and to have the lands allotted to them under the original act of July 1, 1902, adjudged to be theirs free from restraints upon the rights to sell and convey the same. From this statement it is apparent that the purpose of the proceedings instituted in the court of claims, and now appealed to this court, is to restrain the enforcement of such legislation subsequent to the act of July 1, 1902, upon the ground that the same is unconstitutional and void. The court of claims sustained the validity of the acts and dismissed the petitions. 44 Ct. Cl. 137, 283.

These proceedings were begun under the supposed authority of an act of Congress passed March 1, 1907 (a part

Page 350

of the Indian appropriation bill). 34 Stat. at L. 1015, 1028, chap. 2285. As that legislation is important in this connection, so much of the act as authorized the beginning of these suits is here inserted in full:

'That William Brown and Levi B. Gritts, on their own behalf and on behalf of all other Cherokee citizens, having like interests in the property allotted under the act of July first, nineteen hundred and two, entitled, 'An Act to Provide for the Allotment of Lands of the Cherokee Nation, for the Disposition of Town Sites Therein, and for Other Purposes,' and David Muskrat and J. Henry Dick, on their own behalf, and on behalf of all Cherokee citizens enrolled as such for allotment as of September first, nineteen hundred and two, be, and they are hereby, authorized and empowered to institute their suits in the court of claims to determine the validity of any acts of Congress passed since the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two, in so far as said acts, or any of them, attempt to increase or extend the restrictions upon alienation, encumbrance, or the right to lease the allotments of lands of Cherokee citizens, or to increase the number of persons entitled to share in the final distribution of lands and funds of the Cherokees beyond those enrolled for allotment as of September first, nineteen hundred and two, and provided for in the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two.

'And jurisdiction is hereby conferred upon the court of claims, with the right of appeal, by either party, to the Supreme Court of the United States, to hear, determine, and adjudicate each of said suits.

'The suits brought hereunder shall be brought on or before September first, nineteen hundred and seven, against the United States as a party defendatn, and, for the speedy disposition of the questions involved, preference shall be given to the same by waid courts, and by the Attorney General, who is hereby charged with the defense of said suits.

Page 351

'Upon the rendition of final judgment by the court of claims or the Supreme Court of the United States, denying the validity of any portion of the said acts authorized to be brought into question, in either or both of said cases, the court of claims shall determine the amount to be paid the attorneys employed by the above-named parties in the prosecution thereof for services and expenses, and shall render judgment therefor, which shall be paid out of the funds in the United States Treasury belonging to the beneficiaries, under the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two.'

This act is the authority for the maintenance of these two suits.

The first question in these cases, as in others, involves the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the proceeding, and that depends upon whether the jurisdiction conferred is within the power of Congress, having in view the limitations of the judicial power, as established by the Constitution of the United States.

Section 1 of article 3 of the Constitution provides:

'The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as the Congress may, from time to time, ordain and establish.'

Section 2 of the same article provides:

'The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity, arising under this Constitution, the laws of the United States, and treaties made, or which shall be made, under their authority; to all cases affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls; to all cases of admiralty and maritime jurisdiction; to controversies to which the United States shall be a party; to controversies between two or more states; between a state and citizens of another state; between citizens of different states; between citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states, and between a state, or the citizens thereof, and foreign states, citizens, or subjects.'

Page 352

It will serve to elucidate the nature and extent of the judicial power thus conferred by the Constitution to note certain instances in which this court has had occasion to examine and define the same. As early as 1792 an act of Congress (1 Stat. at L. 243, chap. 11), was brought to the attention of this court, which undertook to provide for the settlement of claims of widows and orphans, barred by the limitations theretofore established regulating claims to invalid pensions. The act was not construed by this court, but came under consideration before the then chief justice and another justice of this court and the district judge, and their conclusions are given in the margin of the report of Hayburn's Case, 2 Dall. 409, 1 L. ed. 436. The act undertook to devolve upon the circuit court of the United States the duty of examining proofs, of determining what amount of the monthly pay would be equivalent to the disability ascertained, and to certify the same to the Secretary of War, who was to place the names of the applicants on the pension list of the United States in conformity thereto, unless he had cause to suspect imposition or mistake, in which event he might withhold the name of the applicant and report the same to Congress.

In the note to the report of the case in 2 Dall. it appeared that Chief Justice Jay, Mr. Justice Cushing, and District Judge Duane unanimously agreed:

'That by the Constitution of the United States, the government thereof is divided into three distinct and independent branches, and that it is the duty of each to abstain from, and to oppose, encroachments on either.

'That neither the legislative nor the executive branches can constitutionally assign to the judicial any duties but such as are properly judicial, and to be performed in a judicial manner.

'That the duties assigned to the circuit courts by this act are not of that description, and that the act itself does not appear to contemplate them as such; inasmuch as

Page 353

it subjects the decisions of these courts, made...

To continue reading

Request your trial
608 practice notes
  • American Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Schiff, Civ. 85-0966 BB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • November 3, 1986
    ...courts to deciding controversies which are definite and concrete involving parties with adverse legal interests. Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 361, 31 S.Ct. 250, 255, 55 L.Ed.2d 246 (1911). The federal courts were never intended to render advisory opinions based upon a hypothetica......
  • Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, Nos. 403
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 17, 1936
    ...of the persons complaining. The judicial power does not extend to the determination of abstract questions. Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 361, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246; Liberty Warehouse Company v. Grannis, 273 U.S. 70, 74, 47 S.Ct. 282, 71 L.Ed. 541; Willing v. Chicago Auditoriu......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 6, 1977
    ...and a law that purports to confer standing to attack a statute, the kind of law that was held unavailing in Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246 (1911). An action to enforce a statute may be upheld as a vindication of a statutory interest created by the legisla......
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...situations in which there is no real controversy between the parties. Regard for the separation of powers, see Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246, and for the importance to correct decision of adequate presentation of issues by clashing interests, see Chicago......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
602 cases
  • American Booksellers Ass'n, Inc. v. Schiff, Civ. 85-0966 BB.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of New Mexico
    • November 3, 1986
    ...courts to deciding controversies which are definite and concrete involving parties with adverse legal interests. Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 361, 31 S.Ct. 250, 255, 55 L.Ed.2d 246 (1911). The federal courts were never intended to render advisory opinions based upon a hypothetica......
  • Ashwander v. Tennessee Valley Authority, Nos. 403
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • February 17, 1936
    ...of the persons complaining. The judicial power does not extend to the determination of abstract questions. Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 361, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246; Liberty Warehouse Company v. Grannis, 273 U.S. 70, 74, 47 S.Ct. 282, 71 L.Ed. 541; Willing v. Chicago Auditoriu......
  • Clark v. Valeo, No. 76-1825
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • June 6, 1977
    ...and a law that purports to confer standing to attack a statute, the kind of law that was held unavailing in Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246 (1911). An action to enforce a statute may be upheld as a vindication of a statutory interest created by the legisla......
  • Jointrefugee Committee v. Grath National Council Offriendship v. Grath International Workers Order v. Grath, ANTI-FASCIST
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • April 30, 1951
    ...situations in which there is no real controversy between the parties. Regard for the separation of powers, see Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 31 S.Ct. 250, 55 L.Ed. 246, and for the importance to correct decision of adequate presentation of issues by clashing interests, see Chicago......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Article III Separation of Powers, Standing, and the Rejection of a 'Public Rights' Model of Environmental Citizen Suits
    • United States
    • The Clean Water Act and the Constitution. Legal Structure and the Public's Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment Part II
    • April 20, 2009
    ...Harv. L. Rev. 297 (1979). 6. Case of Hayburn, 2 U.S. 408, 410, 2 Dall. 409 (1792), especially as interpreted in Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 353-54 (1911). 7. 219 U.S. at 354 (quoting 3 Correspondence and Public Papers of John Jay 486 (Henry P. Johnston ed. 1970)). 8. Linda R.S. ......
  • 2019 NINTH CIRCUIT ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW.
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Vol. 50 Nbr. 3, June 2020
    • June 22, 2020
    ...U.S. 83, 97 (1968). (61) U.S. Nat'l Bank v. Indep. Ins. Agents of Am., Inc., 508 U.S. 439, 446 (1993) (quoting Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 359 (62) RCRA specifies, "the district court shall have jurisdiction... to restrain any person who has contributed or who is contributing to......
  • Jurisdictional Avoidance: Rectifying the Lower Courts' Misapplication of Steel Co.
    • United States
    • Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy Vol. 44 Nbr. 1, January 2021
    • January 1, 2021
    ...(7.) See, e.g., Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83, 94-95 (1968); Mitchell v. Maurer, 293 U.S. 237, 244 (1934); Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346, 362 (1911); Great Southern Fire Proof Hotel, 177 U.S. at 453; McCardle, 74 U.S. at 514; Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, 37 U.S. (12 Peters) 657, 71......
  • STATE REJECTION OF FEDERAL LAW.
    • United States
    • Notre Dame Law Review Vol. 97 Nbr. 2, January 2022
    • January 1, 2022
    ...AND PUBLIC PAPERS OF JOHN JAY 487 (Henry P.Johnston ed. 1891)). (209) Id. at 937-39. (210) Id. at 937 (citing Muskrat v. United States, 219 U.S. 346 (211) Id. at 938 (citing Massachusetts v. Mellon, 262 U.S. 447 (1923)). (212) Id. (citing Ex Parte Levitt, 302 U.S. 633 (1937)). (213) Id. (ci......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT