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BALLINGER V. FROST, 216 U. S. 240 (1910)

U.S. Supreme Court

Ballinger v. Frost, 216 U.S. 240 (1910)

Ballinger v. Frost

No. 54

Argued December 8, 1909

Decided February 21, 1910

216 U.S. 240


The power of supervision and correction vested in the Secretary of the Interior over Indian allotments is not unlimited and arbitrary; it cannot be exercised to deprive any person of land the title to which has lawfully vested.

However reluctant the courts may be to interfere with the executive department, they must prevent attempted deprivation of lawfully acquired property, and it is their duty to see that rights which have become vested pursuant to legislation of Congress are not disturbed by any action of an executive officer.

Page 216 U. S. 241

The head of a department of the government is bound by the provisions of congressional legislation, which he cannot violate, however laudable may be his motives.

After all the requirements of the Act of Congress providing for distribution of Indian lands have been complied with, and the statutory period has elapsed without contest, the title of the allottee becomes fixed and absolute, and only the ministerial duty of execution and delivery of the patent remains for the Secretary of the Interior.

The performance of a ministerial duty by an executive officer can be compelled by mandamus, and so held as to the delivery of patent to land selected by a Cherokee Indian allottee after all requirements of the Acts of Congress under which the election was made had been complied with.

30 App.D.C. 165 affirmed.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 216 U. S. 244

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