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MINNESOTA V. UNITED STATES, 305 U. S. 382 (1939)

U.S. Supreme Court

Minnesota v. United States, 305 U.S. 382 (1939)

Minnesota v. United States

No. 73

Argued November 10, 1938

Decided January 3, 1939

305 U.S. 382


1. The United States is an indispensable party defendant in a condemnation proceeding brought by a State to acquire a right of way over lands which the United States owns in fee and holds in trust for Indian allottees. P. 386.

2. The exemption of the United States from being sued without its consent extends to a suit by a State. Such a suit cannot be maintained unless authorized by Act of Congress. P. 305 U. S. 387.

3. The provision of § 3 of the Act of March 3, 1901, that, where Indian allotted lands are condemned under state laws for a public purpose, "the money awarded as damages shall be paid to the allottee" does not require the conclusion that the United States is not an indispensable party to the condemnation proceedings in view of the restraints on alienation imposed by other Acts of Congress, the interest of the United States as trustee in the outcome of the proceeding (the amount to be paid), and the authority of the Secretary of the Interior in respect of reinvesting the proceeds. P. 305 U. S. 387.

4. Where jurisdiction has not been conferred by Congress, no officer of the United States has power to give any court jurisdiction of a suit against the United States. The facts that the United States Attorney petitioned for removal of a suit from the state to the federal court, and stipulated with counsel for plaintiff that the suit could be so removed, are without legal significance in this regard. P. 305 U. S. 388.

5. A federal court is without jurisdiction of a suit removed to it from a state court which itself lacked jurisdiction of the subject matter or the parties, even though the federal court might have had jurisdiction had the suit been brought there originally. P. 305 U. S. 389.

6. The provision of the second paragraph of § 3 of the Act of March 3, 1901, authorizing "condemnation of" lands allotted in severalty to Indians "in the same manner as land owned in fee," construed as not authorizing suit in a state court. P. 305 U. S. 389.

The contention that a long established administrative practice makes for a contrary interpretation is unsupported.

95 F.2d 468 affirmed.

Page 305 U. S. 383

Certiorari, post, p. 580, to review a judgment which reversed, with directions to dismiss, a judgment granting the petition of the State for condemnation of a right of way over Indian allotted lands. The suit was brought originally in the state court, but was removed to the federal court.

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