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Opinion of the Court.
a power of the General Government come into collision, the former must give way; and as the freedom of interstate commerce is secured by the Constitution, except as Congress shall limit it, the act is void because in violation of that freedom.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER did not hear the argument in this case, and took no part in its decision.
HUNTINGTON v. SAUNDERS.
APPEAL FROM THE CIROUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE FIRST
No. 928. Submitted May 4, 1890.-Decided May 25, 1896.
The objections of a creditor to the discharge of a bankrupt being dismissed for want of prosecution, the creditor filed his petition for revision in the Circuit Court of the United States. Issues were made up and the case heard. The Circuit Court held that the petition must be dismissed and an order to that effect was entered. Thereupon the creditor appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals, which court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction. Appeal was taken to this court. Held, that this court had jurisdiction of such an appeal, when it appeared affirmatively that the amount in controversy exceeded $1000, besides costs, which did not appear in this case.
MOTION to dismiss.
The case is stated in the opinion.
Mr. William B. Durant for the motion.
Mr. Bancroft Gherardi Davis opposing.
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER delivered the opinion of the court.
William A. Saunders was adjudicated bankrupt by the District Court of the United States for the District of Massachusetts, October 1, 1875, on petition of creditors filed July 13, 1875. Saunders applied for a discharge by petition filed
Opinion of the Court.
July 19, 1876, of which notice was given returnable May 25, 1877. James Huntington objected to the granting of the discharge and, on June 4, 1877, filed written specifications of his objections. Several hearings were had thereon before the register, and the hearing was closed in 1878. December 22, 1893, Saunders made an application that the objections to his discharge might be dismissed or heard at an early day. December 23, 1893, the court dismissed Huntington's objections for want of prosecution, and on December 30, 1893, granted the bankrupt's discharge. On January 1, 1894, Huntington gave notice of an application to the Circuit Court for a review of the dismissal of objections and the granting the discharge, and on January 3, 1894, filed his petition for revision in the Circuit Court of the United States for the First Circuit. Issues were made up and the case heard. The Circuit Court held that the petition must be dismissed, 64 Fed. Rep. 476, and on January 16, 1895, an order to that effect was entered. Thereupon Huntington appealed to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, which court dismissed the appeal for want of jurisdiction, February 3, 1896. 33 U. S. App. 416.
It was stipulated that Huntington was a creditor of Saunders, "and that the amount of his claim against the bankrupt, which will be discharged if the discharge granted to the bankrupt shall stand, amounts to over five thousand dollars ($5000), exclusive of any interest or costs."
From the final decree of the Circuit Court of Appeals Huntington prayed an appeal to this court, which was allowed, and having been docketed here, a motion to dismiss was made.
This appeal is prosecuted under the last clause of section six of the judiciary act of March 3, 1891, providing: “In all cases not hereinbefore, in this section, made final there shall be of right an appeal or writ of error or review of the case by the Supreme Court of the United States where the matter in controversy shall exceed one thousand dollars besides costs."
This is not one of the cases in which the decrees or judgments of the Circuit Courts of Appeals are made final by that section, but in our opinion the matter in controversy does not exceed one thousand dollars besides costs. The proof of Hunt
Statement of the Case.
ington's claim was not in controversy nor the amount of it. Whether Saunders was entitled to a certificate of discharge was in controversy, but even assuming that the value of this certificate was susceptible of an estimate in money, there was no evidence whatever in the record tending to show this value. South Carolina v. Seymour, 153 U. S. 353, 358. Huntington was entitled to share in whatever assets passed to the assignee, and whether Saunders had acquired new assets after he was put into bankruptcy did not appear.
The matter in controversy must have actual value, and that cannot be supplied by speculation on the possibility that if a discharge were refused something might be made out of the bankrupt. Durham v. Seymour, 161 U. S. 235.
BURFENNING . CHICAGO, ST. PAUL, MINNEAPOLIS AND OMAHA RAILWAY COMPANY.
ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.
No. 277. Submitted May 1, 1896.-Deelded May 18, 1896.
While it is well settled that, in the administration of the public land system of the United States, questions of fact are for the consideration and judgment of the Land Department, and its judgment thereon is final, it is equally true that when, by act of Congress, a tract of land has been reserved from homestead and preemption, or dedicated to any special purpose, proceedings in the Land Department in defiance of such reservation or dedication, although culminating in a patent, transfer no title; and the patent questioned in this case comes within that general rule of Invalidity.
ON March 20, 1890, plaintiff in error commenced his action in the District Court of Hennepin County, Minnesota, to recover possession of certain islands situated in the Mississippi River and within the territorial limits of the city of Minneapolis. After answer and trial had in that court, which resulted in a judgment for the defendant, and which judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court, this writ of error was sued out.
Opinion of the Court.
Mr. James W. Lawrence for plaintiff in error.
Mr. Thomas Wilson for defendant in error.
MR. JUSTICE BREWER delivered the opinion of the court.
The title of plaintiff in error, plaintiff below, rests on a patent from the United States, of date June 13, 1884. This patent was issued under Rev. Stat. § 2306, granting additional homestead lands to soldiers and sailors who served in the war of the rebellion. The record discloses that on April 7, 1873, John Van Anker entered as a homestead at Cawker City, Kansas, the E. of N. W. † section 12, T. 3, R. 12, and W. of N. W. section 7, T. 3, R. 11, containing 155 acres. Under the statute referred to he was entitled to enter 4 acres as an additional homestead, and this without any previous settlement or occupancy thereof. On August 19, 1882, a certificate of this right was issued to him by the acting Commissioner of the General Land Office. On March 27, 1883, he applied under that section to enter these islands, containing 1 acres, and paid therefor the sum of $5.20, total of fees and compensation. This application being sustained, the patent was issued. Under a power of attorney, dated June 7, 1882, a date prior to that of the certificate of his right to the additional entry, a deed was made by his attorney. in fact, B. M. Smith, to the plaintiff. The averment in the complaint, which was supported by the testimony offered at the trial, was that the value of the land was $20,000.
The invalidity of this patent is alleged, under the second clause of section 2258 and section 2289, Revised Statutes, by which are excluded from preëmption and homestead "lands included within the limits of any incorporated town or selected as the site of a city or town." Counsel for plaintiff in error insists that the patentability of all public lands is one for the Land Department of the United States to determine, and that its determination in this case, evidenced by the issue of the patent, is conclusive upon the question that these
Opinion of the Court.
lands were not at the time that the patentee's rights were initiated within the limits of any city and were subject to homestead.
It has undoubtedly been affirmed over and over again that in the administration of the public land system of the United States questions of fact are for the consideration and judgment of the Land Department, and that its judgment thereon is final. Whether, for instance, a certain tract is swamp land or not, saline land or not, mineral land or not, presents a question of fact not resting on record, dependent on oral testimony; and it cannot be doubted that the decision of the Land
Department, one way or the other, in reference to these questions is conclusive and not open to relitigation in the courts, except in those cases of fraud, etc., which permit any determination to be reëxamined. Johnson v. Towsley, 13 Wall. 72; Smelting Company v. Kemp, 104 U. S. 636; Steel v. Smelting Company, 106 U. S. 447; Wright v. Roseberry, 121 U. S. 488; Heath v. Wallace, 138 U. S. 573; McCormick v. Hayes, 159 U. S. 332.
But it is also equally true that when by act of Congress a tract of land has been reserved from homestead and preëmption, or dedicated to any special purpose, proceedings in the Land Department in defiance of such reservation or dedication, although culminating in a patent, transfer no title, and may be challenged in an action at law. In other words, the action of the Land Department cannot override the expressed will of Congress, or convey away public lands in disregard or defiance thereof. Smelting Co. v. Kemp, 104 U. S. 636, 646; Wright v. Roseberry, 121 U. S. 488, 519; Doolan v. Carr, 125 U. S. 618; Davis's Admr. v. Weibbold, 139 U. S. 507, 529; Knight v. U. S. Land Ass'n., 142 U. S. 161.
The case of Morton v. Nebraska, 21 Wall. 660, is very closely in point. In that case the plaintiff held a patent for lands in Nebraska which were saline lands, and noted as such on the field books, although the notes thereof had not been transferred to the register's general plats. The preemption act of September 4, 1841, c. 16, 5 Stat. 453, 456, declared that "no lands on which are situated any known salines or mines shall