UNITED STATES V. RICE, 327 U. S. 742 (1946)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Rice, 327 U.S. 742 (1946)

United States v. Rice

No. 411

Argued February 5, 1946

Decided April 22, 1946

327 U.S. 742


1. A circuit court of appeals may not, by mandamus, review a judgment of a district court ordering remand to a state court of a proceeding which had been removed to the district court upon petition of the United States pursuant to § 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, relating to suits involving title to lands allotted to members of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. Pp. 327 U. S. 744, 327 U. S. 753.

(a) The United States cannot assert, by virtue of its sovereignty, a right of appeal which no statute confers. P. 327 U. S. 749.

(b) Section 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, does not confer upon the Government any right of review of an order remanding a cause

Page 327 U. S. 743

removed under that Act, and § 2 of the Judiciary Act of 1887, intended to withhold it in all cases of removal from state courts. Pp. 327 U. S. 749, 327 U. S. 751.

2. Statutory language and objective appealing with reasonable clarity are not to be overcome by resort to a mechanical rule of construction whose function is not to create doubts, but to resolve them, when the real issue or statutory purpose is otherwise obscure. P. 327 U. S. 753.

Proceedings were begun in a County Court for administration on the estate of a restricted Indian member of the Five Civilized Tribes in Oklahoma. The County Court appointed administrators. The United States petitioned for an order of removal pursuant to § 3 of the Act of April 12, 1926, 44 Stat. 239. The County Court made its order of removal, and a transcript of the proceedings was filed in the District Court. The United States petitioned for intervention in the District Court and prayed for a determination of the decedent's heirs and of the specific parts of his property which are restricted and subject to the supervision of the Secretary of the Interior. On motion of the administrators appointed by the County Court, the District Court dismissed the petition in intervention without prejudice and remanded the proceeding to the County Court for want of jurisdiction in the District Court. In re Micco's Estate, 59 F.Supp. 434.

The United States applied to the Circuit Court of Appeals for leave to file a petition for a writ of mandamus to direct the District Court to vacate its judgment dismissing the petition for intervention and remanding the proceeding.

Being equally divided on two questions, (1) whether the judgment of remand is reviewable by mandamus, and (2) whether the proceeding was removable under the Act of April 12, 1926, the Circuit Court of Appeals certified a single question for the consideration of this Court:

"May this court, by mandamus, review the judgment of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma ordering the remand of the proceeding to the

Page 327 U. S. 744

County Court of Okfuskee County, Oklahoma?"

It further requested this Court to exercise its authority under § 239 of the Judicial Code, "to require the entire record in the cause to be sent up for its consideration and to decide the whole matter in controversy." The Government made a motion to like effect.

The certified question is answered "No," and the Government's motion that this Court order up the entire record is denied. P. 327 U. S. 753.

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