Summary of Kleppe v. New Mexico
S. Ct. 1976
Facts: A rancher discovered several unbranded burros near his cattle on Federal lands, and he notified the BLM. BLM said that it would have the burros removed. During the interim, the rancher, notified the State of N. Mex. Livestock Board that the burros were molesting his cattle. The livestock board and director, seized three unbranded burros on federal lands and sold at public auction, and whose return to public lands had been demanded by the Bureau of Land Management, via Secretary of Interior Kleppe.
Issue: Whether Congress exceeded its powers with the enactment of the Wildhorse and Burro Act and thereby rendered it unconstitutional?
Holding: Yes, according to the D Ct.the Act is unconstitutional, No according to the S. Ct. Act was a constitutional exercise of congressional power under the property clause at least insofar as it was applied to prohibit the New Mexico Livestock Board from entering upon the public lands of the United States and removing wild burros under the New Mexico Estray Law.
Procedure: N.Mex. brought suit for injunctive relief and for declaratory judgment that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act claiming the Act was unconstitutional. A three-judge panel of the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico, the Act was unconstitutional, Secretary of the Interior appealed. The S Ct, held that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros
Reversed and remanded.
Rule: a4s3c2The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State. Under Constitution, Congress may acquire by consent or cession exclusive or partial jurisdiction over lands within state for any legitimate governmental purpose beyond those itemized in Constitution a1s8c17
Ct. Rationale: Complete power that Congress has over public lands under property clause necessarily includes power to regulate and protect wildlife living there, state law notwithstanding.
Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act does not establish exclusive federal jurisdiction over public lands in New Mexico, but it overrides New Mexico Estray Law insofar as it attempts to regulate federally protected animals. States have broad trustee and police powers over wild animals within their jurisdictions, but those powers exist only insofar as their exercise may not be incompatible with, or restrained by, rights conveyed to federal government by Constitution. The power over the public lands is without limitations.
PL A: The Wildhorse and Burros Act enacted by Congress grants the power to protect and manage [the animals] as components of the public lands, whereas that power come directly from a4s3c2
Def A: The power to dispose and regulate federal property does not apply to animals which are transient. The Act is designed to protect animals, which are not federal property, nor public lands.