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BUTTE CITY WATER CO. V. BAKER, 196 U. S. 119 (1905)

U.S. Supreme Court

Butte City Water Co. v. Baker, 196 U.S. 119 (1905)

Butte City Water Company v. Baker

No. 109

Argued December 16, 1904

Decided January 3, 1905

196 U.S. 119


While the disposal of the public lands is made through the exercise of legislative power entrusted to Congress by the Constitution, yet Congress, prescribing the main and substantial conditions thereof, may rightfully entrust to local legislatures the determination of those minor matters as to such disposal which amount to mere regulations.

Regulations made by the local legislatures in regard to the location of mining

Page 196 U. S. 120

claims which are not in conflict with the Constitution and laws of the United States are not invalid as an exercise of a power which cannot be delegated by Congress, and such regulations must be complied with in order to perfect title and ownership under the mining laws of the United States

Even if doubts exist were the matter wholly res integra, and although consequences may not determine a decision, this Court will pause before declaring invalid legislation long since enacted, and the validity whereof has been upheld by state courts and recognized by this Court, and on the faith of which property rights have been built up and countless titles rest which would be unsettled by an adverse decision.

The regulations contained in § 3612 of the Montana Code are not invalid as being too stringent, and therefore in conflict with the liberal purpose manifested by Congress in its legislation respecting mining claims.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 196 U. S. 122

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