« ForrigeFortsett »
matter of law, that the petitioner has no legal right to a patent. Congress not only has failed to deny these allotment rights by legislation, but has rejected urgent and reiterated appeals from the Department to do so. Accordingly, the Indian was entitled to invoke the supreme law of the land for his benefit (Arenas v. U.S., 322 U.S. 419, 433 (1944)).
Thereafter the Secretary was persuaded to exercise an alleged discretion, ostensibly relying on provisions of the 1887 General Allotment Act, and disapprove the allotment schedule, which had languished so long in his office. The Indian again sued. The Court of Appeals sustained the Indian's right and criticized those held responsible for thus attempting to evade the clear mandate of the law. See U. S. v. Arenas (158 F. 2d 730 (1947); cert. den. 331 U. S. 842 (1947)).
The point I wish to make here is that where Congress has directed a course of action, the Secretary is bound to comply with that direction notwithstanding any policy consideration motivated either by realism or by idealism.
As I have heretofore indicated, I perceive no ambiguity in the directive Congress has given you in the 1926 act as amended. In the evolution of our statutory law it is axiomatic that Congress has the power to amend a law to meet changed conditions or relieve hardship. It can authorize an irrigation project without imposing acreage limitations; it can relieve an existing project from prior limitations; it can permit delivery to excess lands upon payment of interest on reimbursable charges allocable to such lands; and it can direct the Secretary to enter into a particular contract as it did in section 45 of the Omnibus Act of 1926 in connection with the Belle Fourche Irrigation District. But, that type of discretion has not been vested in you as Secretary and therefore remains a prerogative of Congress.
ELMER F. BENNETT, Solicitor.
ADDITIONAL MATERIAL FROM DEPARTMENT OF THE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, D. C., January 20, 1958. Hon. CLINTON P. ANDERSON, Chairman, Subcommittee on Irrigation and Reclamation,
United States Senate, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR ANDERSON: As you will recall, in response to your earlier request, our letter of December 31, 1957, transmitted data concerning excess lands on reclamation projects, for use by your committee.
We are pleased to advise you that the detailed report on excess lands referred to in the third paragraph of the above letter is now available. Accordingly, we are enclosing copies for addition to the material heretofore provided. The map of the western United States included with the report will aid in the location of the several projects and regions to which reference is made. Sincerely yours,
FRED G. AANDAHL,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior. (The map referred to is filed with the committee.)