UNITED STATES V. MORRISON, 240 U. S. 192 (1916)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Morrison, 240 U.S. 192 (1916)

United States v. Morrison

No. 138

Argued December 15, 1916

Decided February 21, 1916

240 U.S. 192


The State of Oregon did not, under § 4 of the Act of February 14, 1859, c. 33, 11 Stat. 383, take title to sections 16 and 36, thereby granted prior to survey, but, until defined by survey and title had vested in the state, Congress had power to dispose of them on compensating the state for the resulting deficiency.

Surveying the public lands is an administrative act, confided by statute

Page 240 U. S. 193

to designated officers of the United States who have power to direct how the surveys shall be made, and, until all requirement shall have been fulfilled, a survey is not a completed official act.

Nothing in the Act of February 14, 1859, or in Rev.Stat., § 2275, as amended by the Act of February 28, 1891, operated to pass title to the State of Oregon of sections 16 and 36 at any intermediate stage of the survey, or imposed any limitations on the authority of Congress to dispose of such lands before title passed to the state upon a survey duly completed according to authorized regulations of the Land Department.

A survey is incomplete until formally approved by the Commissioner, and even though approved without modification, it does not so relate back to the date of the grant or of the field survey as to destroy the power of Congress to dispose of the land while unsurveyed.

Authority to establish the Cascade Range Forest Reservation, given to the President by the Acts of March 3, 1891, and June 4, 1897, included the power to make temporary withdrawals, and a properly made order of the Secretary of the Interior withdrawing lands must be regarded as an act of the President.

The disposition of public lands by the President under the authority of Congress is a disposition by Congress.

The exception in the proclamation of January 15, 1907, enlarging the Cascade Range Forest Reserve did not include sections 16 and 36 in townships in Oregon referred to in § 4 of the Enabling Act of 1859 but which had not been included in a completed survey.

The statutory provisions for forest reservations refer to any lands which are subject to disposition of Congress, whether surveyed or not.

Quaere whether a state may await the extinguishment of a forest reserve which includes lands granted, but title to which will not vest until completed survey, and, after such extinguishment, take the granted lands.

212 F. 29 reversed.

The facts, which involve the construction of provisions in federal statutes relating to sections 16 and 36 granted to the State of Oregon, are stated in the opinion.

Page 240 U. S. 196

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