Boesche v. Udall

LOCATION: Clauson's Inn

DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962-1965)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit

CITATION: 373 US 472 (1963)
ARGUED: Feb 25, 1963
DECIDED: May 27, 1963

Facts of the case


Media for Boesche v. Udall

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 25, 1963 in Boesche v. Udall

Earl Warren:

Fenelon Boesche, Administrator, Petitioner, versus Stewart L. Udall, Secretary of the Interior.

Mr. BenEzra.

Leon Benezra:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

The question presented in this case is whether the Secretary of the Interior has authority under Section 31 of the Mineral Leasing Act to cancel oil and gas leases by administrative action for failure to comply with the Department's regulations.

The facts are uncontroverted in this case and briefly stated, they are as follows:

On September 11, 1956, petitioner's father, N.W.C. Boesche, now deceased, filed application for an oil and gas lease on an 80-tract -- 80-acre tract of public land.

On that date an adjoining 40-acre tract was already under application for lease, previously filed by one Thomas Connell.

Also on September 11, 1856, but later in the day, Vincent Cuccia and George E. Conley filed a joint application for a lease on both the 40-acre tract previously filed by Connell and the 80-acre tract previously filed by Boesche.

Subsequently, the manager of the Santa Fe Land Office on December 1, 1956 issued a lease to the 40-acre parcel to Connell.One year later, on December 1, 1957, the manager, after making a determination that Boesche, petitioner herein, was the first qualified applicant for the 80-acre tract, issued a lease to him.

And later on January 24, 1958, the manager rejected the Cuccia and Conley application for a lease on the 80 acres already issued to the petitioner.

Cuccia and Conley then appealed to the Director of the Bureau of Land Management.

And on January 9, 1959, one year and one month after the lease had been issued to the petitioner, the Director held that petitioner's lease should be cancelled for a failure to comply with the Department's 640-acre rule.

Boesche, the petitioner, then appealed to the Secretary of the Interior and on August 5, 1959, the Secretary, through his Deputy Solicitor, affirmed the Director's decision and directed cancellation of the Boesche lease.

Arthur J. Goldberg:


Leon Benezra:

My client has done nothing with the lease obviously, because it's in jeopardy.

But --

Arthur J. Goldberg:

Is there any development in there?

Leon Benezra:

Whatever development there could be has been halted by the Secretary's administrative cancellation or rather attempted administrative cancellation of the lease because as soon as the Secretary hands down his decision, our client moved to the District Court in an action to prevent the Secretary to cancel.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

That was years before the Secretary entered his final decision, you mentioned the year -- the entire period?

Leon Benezra:


During this entire period, because of the so-called, “appellate review,” of the Department, knowing full well that there was a review procedure and the fact that the conflicting applicant, Cuccia and Conley had filed an appeal.

My client was unable to do anything with the lease during this period, although he supposedly had a lease for a five-year term, and so long thereafter, this oil and gas was produced.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

Well, would you say this thing has happened before, the proceeding has been brought in the District Court in these terms?

Leon Benezra:

In the District Court, where the land is located?

Not quite, Your Honor, in this respect.

At least the lessor would not have been immediately involved in this situation.

In effect, there is a double jeopardy.

There is the appellate review jeopardy in the administrative procedure and then of course there would be one in a court.

But during all this period, since the Secretary of the Interior issues a lease and upon issuance of the lease, the primary term for five-year commences, you have a double period where the lessee can do nothing with the lease, although he has been given under the lease and under the statute the exclusive right to go on the land, to produce and develop.

Arthur J. Goldberg:

You paid rent on it.