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Property Keyed to French
Hodel, Sec. of the Interior v. Irving
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- The Brief Prologue provides necessary case brief introductory information and includes:
- Topic: Identifies the topic of law and where this case fits within your course outline.
- Parties: Identifies the cast of characters involved in the case.
- Procedural Posture & History: Shares the case history with how lower courts have ruled on the matter.
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- The Case Brief is the complete case summarized and authored in the traditional Law School I.R.A.C. format. The Pro case brief includes:
- Brief Facts: A Synopsis of the Facts of the case.
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- Facts: What are the factual circumstances that gave rise to the civil or criminal case? What is the relationship of the Parties that are involved in the case. Review the Facts of this case here:
In the late 19th century, Congress enacted a series of laws dividing the ownership of Indian reservations. Under those laws, portions of the reservations were allotted to individual tribe members with restrictions on how they could dispose of the property: the tribe members could dispose of their property interests by will in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Secretary of the Interior (Defendant); otherwise the interests would pass to the tribe members’ descendants. The laws did not work as Congress had intended. The property ownership interests became divided among increasing numbers of heirs in increasingly complex ways. Because most of the properties were rented out and the rent needed to be divided proportionally among the owners, the administrative costs skyrocketed. For example, one Sioux tribe averaged 196 owners per allotted tract of land, and many owners received only pennies per year in rent because their shares were so small. In 1983, Congress passed the Indian Land Consolidation Act, which provided that all ownership interests constituting less than two percent of the area of a tract or earning less than $100 in the previous year would escheat (pass) to the tribe when the owner died. Several members of the Oglala Sioux tribe (Plaintiffs) sued the Defendant, claiming that the statute effected takings without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. The district court ruled the Act constitutional. This was reversed by the court of appeals on the grounds that controlling disposition of the property at death represented a taking. The Secretary appealed to the Supreme Court.
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- The Brief Prologue closes the case brief with important forward-looking discussion and includes:
- Policy: Identifies the Policy if any that has been established by the case.
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