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United States ex Rel. Greathouse v. Dern, 289 U.S. 352 (1933)

United States ex Rel. Greathouse v. Dern

No. 677

Argued April 11, 12, 1933

Decided May 8, 1933

289 U.S. 352


1. Allowance of the remedy by mandamus is controlled by equitable principles. P. 289 U. S. 359.

2. The court, in its discretion, may refuse mandamus to compel the doing of an idle act, or where public injury or embarrassment would result from granting it. P. 289 U. S. 360.

3. Owners of land on the Virginia side of the Potomac, opposite Washington, claiming title to upland extending by accretion to present high water, and the right, by common law and under the Maryland-Virginia Compact of 1785, to wharf out in a manner approved by the Chief of Army Engineers as not obstructive of navigation, sought by mandamus to compel the Secretary of War to approve under the Act of March 3, 1899, to the end that they might consummate a sale of the land under a contract made conditional upon such

Page 289 U. S. 353

approval. Held that, putting aside doubts concerning the petitioners' property and the duty of the Secretary under the statute, mandamus was properly refused upon the grounds that the Government has devoted both the lands of the United States constituting the bed of the river at the locus in quo and the upland adjacent to a parkway, the plan for which contemplate the taking of part of petitioners' property, so that the apparent consequence of authorizing the wharf would be only to increase the expense to the Government of constructing such parkway. Pp. 289 U. S. 358-360.

63 F.2d 137 affirmed.

Certiorari, 288 U.S. 598, to review the affirmance of a judgment denying a writ of mandamus.

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