Andrus v. Idaho

LOCATION: U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio Division

DOCKET NO.: 79-260
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

CITATION: 445 US 715 (1980)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1980
DECIDED: Apr 16, 1980

David H. Leroy - for respondents
Stuart A. Smith - for petitioner

Facts of the case


Media for Andrus v. Idaho

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1980 in Andrus v. Idaho

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 16, 1980 in Andrus v. Idaho

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in Andrus against Idaho will be announced by Mr. Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This case is here from the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and it arises under the Carey Act which is an old statute passed in 1894 and which authorizes the Secretary of Interior to grant to specified Western States rather large acreages of desert land forming part of the public domain provided that the State agrees to -- to reclaim and irrigate the land and provided the State lives up to its -- to its promise.

The Secretary was later authorized to temporarily withdraw land pending preparation and approval of a development plan.

This case arose when Idaho asked the Secretary to set aside some 27,000 acres of desert land in that -- in that State most of which, however, had already been withdrawn by the Secretary for other public uses.

The State claimed that its Carey Act request the Carey priority and it was absolutely entitled with it to the land regardless of what other uses were being made of it.

The Secretary turned down the request indicating that he claimed complete discretion to reject such request and that the State had no right whatsoever to any specific amount of land.

The State sued in the District Court and although ultimately agreeing with the Secretary that this particular request could be turned down the District Court held that the States did have a right to the statutory acreage which the Secretary would have to reserve and not commit to other public purposes.

The Court also indicated that -- that the Secretary's Carey Act decisions were subject to judicial review and would be set aside as they were arbitrary.

The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed on the opinion of the District Court and we granted the Government's petition for certiorari.

We disagree with the courts below that -- that the States are entitled to a particular amount of land at the -- that the Secretary must reserve from the public -- from the public domain.

We state our reasons at some length in an opinion on file with the Court.

We did not disturb, however, the judgment that the Secretary's Carey Act decisions are subject to judicial review on the grounds of arbitrariness.

So, we affirm in part and reverse in part the judgment of Court of Appeals.

Mr. Justice Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Mr. Justice White.