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UNITED STATES V. SWEET, 245 U. S. 563 (1918)

U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Sweet, 245 U.S. 563 (1918)

United States v. Sweet

No. 99

Argued December 19, 1917

Decided January 28, 1918

245 U.S. 563


Section 6 of the Utah Enabling Act of July 16, 1894, c. 138, 28 Stat. 107, purports to grant to the state upon her admission sections 2, 16, 32 and 36 in every township, reserving lands embraced in permanent reservations, etc., but making no mention of mineral lands. Section 10 provides that land granted by the act for educational purposes

"shall not be subject to preemption, homestead entry, or any other entry under the land laws of the United States, whether surveyed or unsurveyed, but shall be surveyed for school purposes only."

Held that the school section grant was not intended to embrace land known to be valuable for coal.

It is the settled policy of Congress to dispose of mineral lands only under laws specially including them. This is evinced by very numerous enactments, beginning even with the Ordinance of May 20, 1785. It was expressed in its application to all grants, whether to a state or not, by the particular acts whence came the general and permanent provisions on the subject found in §§ 2318 and 2346 of the Revised Statutes, and was even more firmly established by the mining laws as a whole.

Taken collectively, the mining laws (including the coal land laws), constitute a special code upon the subject of mineral lands, intended not only to establish particular modes of disposing of such lands,

Page 245 U. S. 564

but also to except and reserve them from all other grants and modes of disposal where there is no express provision for their inclusion.

The school land indemnity act of February 28, 1891, c. 384, 26 Stat. 796, in providing for lieu selections where sections 16 and 36 are mineral, affords a plain implication that those sections are not to pas under the grant if known to be mineral when the grant takes effect.

The school land grant to Utah must be read in the light of the mining laws (which have always applied in Utah), the school land indemnity law, supra, and the settled policy of Congress respecting mineral lands, and not as if it constituted the sole evidence of the legislative will. As it contains no language certainly showing an intention to depart from such policy, or explicitly or clearly withdrawing from the operation of the mining laws the designated sections when known to be mineral, its general terms cannot he held to include them.

This conclusion is fortified by the fact that, although Utah was known to be rich in minerals as well as salines, the Enabling Act, in its extensive grants, is silent as to minerals, but includes an express grant of salines; also by the committee reports in Congress, uniform construction by the Land Department, and the Act of May 3, 1902, c. 683, 32 Stat. 188, declaring that, as to Utah, the school land indemnity law of February 28, 1891, supra, shall apply to sections 2 and 32 as well as 16 and 36.

Cooper v. Roberts, 18 How. 173, distinguished, and some of its observations disapproved.

228 F. 421 reversed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 245 U. S. 566

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