ANDRUS V. UTAH, 446 U. S. 500 (1980)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Andrus v. Utah, 446 U.S. 500 (1980)

Andrus v. Utah

No. 78-1522

Argued December 5, 1979

Decided May 19, 1980

446 U.S. 500


Section 7 of the Taylor Grazing Act, as amended in 1936, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary), in his discretion, to classify, as proper not only for homesteading but also for satisfaction of any outstanding "lieu" rights, both lands within federal grazing districts and any unappropriated and unreserved public lands withdrawn by Executive Order from "settlement, location, sale or entry" pending a determination of the best use of the lands, and to open all such lands to "selection." Section 7 further provides that such lands shall not be subject to disposition until they have been classified. Pursuant to § 7, the Secretary refused Utah's selection of extremely valuable oil shale lands located within federal grazing districts in lieu of and as indemnification for original school land grants of significantly lesser value that were frustrated by federal preemption or private entry prior to being surveyed. In so acting, the Secretary followed the policy that, in the exercise of his discretion under § 7, indemnity applications involving grossly disparate values would be refused. Utah filed suit in Federal District Court, which, upon stipulated facts, entered summary judgment for the State. The Court of Appeals affirmed, holding that § 7 gave the Secretary no authority to classify land as eligible for selection, and that Utah had a right to select indemnity land of equal acreage without regard to the relative values of the original school land grants and the indemnity selections.

Held: Section 7 confers on the Secretary the authority, in his discretion, to classify lands within a federal grazing district as proper for school indemnity selection. His "grossly disparate value" policy is a lawful exercise of the broad discretion vested in him by § 7, and is a valid ground for refusing to accept Utah's selections. Such policy is wholly faithful to Congress' consistent purpose, in providing for indemnity selections, of giving the States a rough equivalent of the school land grants in place that were lost through preemption or private entry prior to survey. Pp. 446 U. S. 506-520.

586 F.2d 756, reversed.

STEVENS, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, STEWART, WHITE, and MARSHALL, JJ., joined. POWELL, J., filed a dissenting

Page 446 U. S. 501

opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BLACKMUN and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined, post, p. 446 U. S. 520.

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