PLESTED V. ABBEY, 228 U. S. 42 (1913)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Plested v. Abbey, 228 U.S. 42 (1913)

Plested v. Abbey

No. 156

Argued January 31, 1913

Decided April 7, 1913

228 U.S. 42


Subordinate officers of the Land Department are under the control, and their acts are subject to the review, of their official superiors, the Commissioner of the General Land Office and ultimately the Secretary of the Interior.

Until the legal title to public land passes from the government, inquiry as to all equitable rights comes within the cognizance of the Land Department. Brown v. Hitchcock, 173 U. S. 433, 173 U. S. 476.

Congress has placed the Land Department under the supervision and control of the Secretary of the Interior, a special tribunal with

Page 228 U. S. 43

large administrative and quasi-judicial function, and subordinate officials should not be called upon to put the court in possession of their views and defend their instruction from the Commissioner and convert the contest before the Land Department into one before the court. Litchfield v. Register, 9 Wall. 575.

The facts, which involve the right under the laws of the United States to purchase coal lands belonging to the United States, and the jurisdiction of the courts over the officers of the Land Department prior to issuing of the patent, are stated in the opinion.

Page 228 U. S. 47

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