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BOESCH V. UDALL, 373 U. S. 472 (1963)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Boesch v. Udall, 373 U.S. 472 (1963)

Boesch v. Udall

No. 332

Argued February 25, 1963

Decided May 27, 1963

373 U.S. 472


The Secretary of the Interior has authority to cancel in an administrative proceeding a noncompetitive lease of public lands issued under the provisions of the Mineral Leasing Act of 1920 in circumstances where such lease was granted in violation of the Act and the regulations promulgated thereunder -- i.e., he has power to correct administrative errors of the sort involved in this case by cancellation of leases in administrative proceedings timely instituted by competing applicants for the same land. Pp. 373 U. S. 473-486.

(a) The Secretary, under his general powers of management over the public lands, has authority to cancel such a lease administratively for invalidity at its inception, unless such authority was withdrawn by the Mineral Leasing Act. Pp. 373 U. S. 476-478.

(b) Both the language of the statute and its legislative history show that § 31 of the Mineral Leasing Act reaches only cancellations based on post-lease events, and leaves unaffected the Secretary's traditional administrative authority to cancel on the basis of pre-lease factors. Pp. 373 U. S. 478-482.

(c) From the beginnings of the Mineral Leasing Act, the Secretary has conceived that he had such power, and Congress has never interfered with its exercise. Pp. 373 U. S. 482-483.

(d) This case is a peculiarly appropriate one for administrative determination in the first instance, since the sole issue was whether petitioner's lease offer was defective because it failed to include an adjoining 40-acre tract under application by another party, and this question had already been decided adversely to petitioner's position by the Secretary in a previous case interpreting the governing departmental regulations. Pp. 373 U. S. 483-485.

112 U.S.App.D.C. 344, 303 F.2d 204, affirmed. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 373 U. S. 473

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