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MUSKRAT v. UNITED STATES. BROWN AND GRITTS V. UNITED STATES.

decided: January 23, 1911.

MUSKRAT
v.
UNITED STATES.

BROWN AND GRITTS
v.
UNITED STATES.



APPEALS FROM THE COURT OF CLAIMS.

Author: Day

[ 219 U.S. Page 348]

 MR. JUSTICE DAY delivered the opinion of the court.

These cases arise under an act of Congress undertaking to confer jurisdiction upon the Court of Claims, and upon this court on appeal, to determine the validity of certain acts of Congress hereinafter referred to.

Case No. 330 was brought by David Muskrat and J. Henry Dick in their own behalf and in behalf of others in a like situation to determine the constitutional validity of the act of Congress of April 26, 1906, c. 1876, 34 Stat. 137, as amended by the act of June 21, 1906, c. 3504, 34 Stat. 325 et seq., and to have the same declared invalid in so far as the same undertook to increase the number of persons entitled to share in the final distribution of lands and funds of the Cherokees beyond those enrolled on September 1, 1902, in accordance with the act of Congress passed July 1, 1902, c. 1375, 32 Stat. 716-720-721. The

[ 219 U.S. Page 349]

     acts subsequent to that of July 1, 1902, have the effect to increase the number of persons entitled to participate in the division of the Cherokee lands and funds, by permitting the enrollment of children who were minors living on March 4, 1906, whose parents had theretofore been enrolled as members of the Cherokee tribe or had applications pending for that purpose.

Case No. 331 was brought by Brown and Gritts on their own behalf and on behalf of other Cherokee citizens having a like interest in the property allotted under the act of July 1, 1902, c. 1368, 32 Stat. 710. Under this act, Brown and Gritts received allotments.The subsequent act of March 11, 1904, c. 505, 33 Stat. 65, empowered the Secretary of the Interior to grant rights of way for pipe lines over lands allotted to Indians under certain regulations. Another act, that of April 26, 1906, c. 1876, 34 Stat. 137, purported to extend to a period of twenty-five years the time within which full-blooded Indians of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole tribes were forbidden to alienate, sell, dispose of or encumber certain of their lands.

The object of the petition of Brown and Gritts was to have the subsequent legislation of 1904 and 1906 declared to be unconstitutional and void, and to have the lands allotted to them under the original act of July 1, 1902, adjudged to be theirs free from restraints upon the rights to sell and convey the same. From this statement it is apparent that the purpose of the proceedings instituted in the Court of Claims and now appealed to this court is to restrain the enforcement of such legislation subsequent to the act of July 1, 1902, upon the ground that the same is unconstitutional and void. The Court of Claims sustained the validity of the acts and dismissed the petitions. 44 C. Cls. 137, 283.

These proceedings were begun under the supposed authority of an act of Congress passed March 1, 1907 (a part

[ 219 U.S. Page 350]

     of the Indian appropriation bill), c. 2285, 34 Stat. 1015, 1028. As that legislation is important in this connection so much of the act as authorized the beginning of these suits is here inserted in full:

"That William Brown and Levi B. Gritts, on their own behalf and no behalf of all other Cherokee citizens, having like interests in the property allotted under the act of July first, nineteen hundred and two, entitled 'An act to provide for the allotment of lands of the Cherokee Nation, for the disposition of townsites therein, and for other purposes,' and David Muskrat and J. Henry Disk, on their own behalf, and on behalf of all Cherokee citizens enrolled as such for allotment as of September first, nineteen hundred and two, be, and they are hereby, authorized and empowered to institute their suits in the Court of Claims to determine the validity of any acts of Congress passed since the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two, in so far as said acts, or any of them, attempt to increase or extend the restrictions upon alienation, encumbrance, or the right to lease the allotments of lands of Cherokee citizens, or to increase the number of persons entitled to share in the final distribution of lands and funds of the Cherokees beyond those enrolled for allotment as of September first, nineteen hundred and two, and provided for in the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two.

"And jurisdiction is hereby conferred upon the Court of Claims, with the right of appeal, by either party, to the Supreme Court of the United States, to hear, determine, and adjudicate each of said suits.

"The suits brought hereunder shall be brought on or before September first, nineteen hundred and seven, against the United States as a party defendant, and, for the speedy disposition of the questions involved, preference shall be given to the same by said courts, and by the Attorney General, who is hereby charged with the defense of said suits.

[ 219 U.S. Page 351]

     "Upon the rendition of final judgment by the Court of Claims or the Supreme Court of the United States denying the validity of any portion of the said acts authorized to be brought into question, in either or both of said cases, the Court of Claims shall determine the amount to be paid the attorneys employed by the above-named parties in the prosecution thereof for services and expenses, and shall render judgment therefor, which shall be paid out of the funds in the United States Treasury belonging to the beneficiaries under the said act of July first, nineteen hundred and two."

This act is the authority for the maintenance of these two suits.

The first question in these cases, as in others, involves the jurisdiction of this court to entertain the proceeding, and that depends upon whether the jurisdiction conferred is within the power of Congress, having in view the limitations of the judicial power as established by the Constitution of the United States.

Section 1 of Article III of the Constitution provides:

"The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from ...


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