UNITED STATES V. 93.970 ACRES OF LAND, 360 U. S. 328 (1959)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. 93.970 Acres of Land, 360 U.S. 328 (1959)

United States v. 93.970 Acres of Land

No. 573

Argued May 21, 1959

Decided June 22, 1959

360 U.S. 328


Under a statute authorizing the Secretary of the Navy to lease naval lands under revocable leases, he leased a naval airfield in Illinois to a private operator. The lease contained a preamble stating that it was considered essential to retain the field in a stand-by status for use "in connection with Naval Aviation activities" and a substantive provision that "this lease will at all times be revocable at will by the Government" upon giving certain notice. Subsequently, the Army desired to use the land for an aerial defense missile site, and the Secretaries of the Army and Navy jointly served notice of revocation on the lessee. The lessee declined to leave the land, claiming that the lease could be revoked only when the land was needed for "Naval Aviation activities." In order to obtain possession as soon as possible, the Government sued to condemn whatever possessory interest the lessee might be adjudicated to have; but the Government maintained that it had validly revoked the lease.


1. The Government's right to revoke the lease was not restricted to occasions when it desired to use the land for aviation purposes, and the revocation was valid and effective. Pp. 360 U. S. 331-332.

2. The doctrine of "election of remedies" did not require the Government to abandon its right to revoke the lease in order to exercise its right to obtain immediate possession under the condemnation law. P. 360 U. S. 332.

3. Since essential interests of the Federal Government are here involved and Congress has not made state law applicable, federal law governs, even if the doctrine of election of remedies is a part of the law of Illinois. Pp. 360 U. S. 332-333.

258 F.2d 17, reversed.

Page 360 U. S. 329

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