MR. JUSTICE BURTON delivered the opinion of the Court.
This proceeding was instituted by the United States to condemn land as a site for a post office and customhouse in the City of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, in reliance upon several federal statutes, including the general Condemnation Act of August 1, 1888, and the Public Buildings Act of May 25, 1926.
In 1941, the United States petitioned the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri to condemn as a site for a United States post office and customhouse about one and one-half acres, near the center of the City of Cape Girardeau, together with the improvements thereon except a public library building. This site was part of a four-acre public park and the improvements to be condemned included a building used as the county
The petition included as parties defendant the City and County, numerous officials and all known and unknown heirs or others who might claim an interest in this site especially through those who conveyed it, in trust, in 1807 to the Commissioners of the District or, in trust, in 1820 to the inhabitants of the Town of Cape Girardeau. Respondent was the only defendant to file an answer. Finding that she had no interest permitting her to maintain the defenses she asserted, the District Court entered a preliminary decree in favor of the United States. On respondent's appeal the Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the cause for further proceedings consistent with its opinion holding that the respondent had a special interest entitling her to object to the property being taken for a purpose destructive of the public use to which it had been dedicated by her ancestors. Carmack v. United States, 135 F.2d 196.
In 1944, on retrial before a different judge, the District Court recognized the respondent as entitled to contest the condemnation and, at the direction of the Circuit Court of Appeals, heard evidence as to whether or not the officials of the United States acted capriciously and arbitrarily in selecting this site. It held that "the selection of the site described in the petition, under all the facts referred to, amounts in law to an arbitrary and unnecessary act" and dismissed the petition. United States v. Certain Land, Etc., 55 F.Supp. 555, 564. The Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment on the ground that the Federal Works Administrator and the Postmaster General did not have sufficient statutory authority "to take the particular land sought to be condemned." It then expressly found it unnecessary to consider whether or not the
Both the general Condemnation Act and the Public Buildings Act
The power of eminent domain is essential to a sovereign government. If the United States has determined its need for certain land for a public use that is within its federal sovereign powers, it must have the right to appropriate that land. Otherwise, the owner of the land, by refusing to sell it or by consenting to do so only at an unreasonably high price, is enabled to subordinate the constitutional powers of Congress to his personal will. The Fifth Amendment, in turn, provides him with important
While in its early days the Federal Government filed its condemnation cases in the state courts, this Court, in Kohl v. United States, 91 U.S. 367, disposed of the idea that this was necessary. In that case, which has become the leading case on the federal power of eminent domain, Mr. Justice Strong also said:
The Kohl case approved the condemnation of privately owned land, then subject to a perpetual leasehold, for a post office site in Cincinnati, Ohio, under an Act of Congress expressly naming that City but not expressly naming the site. The respondent here seeks, by judicial interpretation of the general Condemnation Act and the Public Buildings Act, to exclude from condemnation a particular site in Cape Girardeau selected for a post office by the appropriate federal officials. She depends upon the fact
It makes little difference that the site here sought to be condemned is held by the City in trust instead of in fee. The city government is not resisting the condemnation. The Federal Government can obtain, by voluntary conveyance, whatever title the City can convey. The weakness in the City's right to sell or exchange this site arises from restrictions in the conveyance to it. Through the inclusion, as defendants, of all claimants who might rely upon such restrictions or might claim an interest through the grantors of this site, a decree of condemnation will dispose of the suggested defects. By giving notice to all claimants to a disputed title, condemnation proceedings provide a judicial process for securing better title against all the world than may be obtained by voluntary conveyance.
Both in themselves and from the relation of these Acts to the Constitution, we find substantial reason for making their broad language effective to its full constitutional limit. While the federal power of eminent domain is limited to taking property for federal public uses, the question of the existence of a federal public use presents no difficulty here because the constitutional power of Congress to establish post offices is express.
The foregoing establishes the principle of the supremacy of a federal public use over all other uses in a clearly designated field such as that of establishing post offices. The Government here contends that the officials designated by Congress have been authorized by Congress to use their best judgment in selecting post office sites. It contends also that if the officials so designated have used such judgment, in good faith, in selecting the proposed park site in spite of its conflicting local public uses, the Federal Works Administrator has express authority to direct the condemnation of that site. We agree with those contentions. We find in the broad terms of the Public Buildings Act authority for the designated officials to select the site they did. We find, in both Acts, authority for them to acquire by condemnation the site thus lawfully selected. The judgment exercised by the designated officials in selecting
In this case, it is unnecessary to determine whether or not this selection could have been set aside by the courts as unauthorized by Congress if the designated officials had acted in bad faith or so "capriciously and arbitrarily" that their action was without adequate determining principle or was unreasoned.
The judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals, therefore, is reversed and the cause remanded to the District Court for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS concurs in the result and substantially agrees with the opinion of the Court. But he reserves judgment as to the circumstances under which authority to condemn land owned by a city or a state should be inferred from a general condemnation statute, if the local government challenged the taking.
"To enable the Federal Works Administrator to provide suitable accommodations . . . for courthouses, post offices, immigration stations, customhouses, marine hospitals, quarantine stations, and other public buildings of the classes under the control of the Federal Works Agency in the States, Territories, and possessions of the United States, he is hereby authorized and directed to acquire, by purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, such sites and additions to sites as he may deem necessary, . . . Provided, That . . . insofar as relates to buildings to be used in whole or in part for post-office purposes, the Federal Works Administrator, under regulations to be prescribed by him, shall act jointly with the Postmaster General in the selection of towns or cities in which buildings are to be constructed and the selection of sites therein: . . . ." 40 U.S.C. § 341. This is codified from § 1 of the Public Buildings Act of May 25, 1926, 44 Stat. 630-631, as modified by Reorganization Plan I, §§ 301-303, 53 Stat. 1426-1427, 5 U.S.C. following § 133t. See also, 40 U.S.C. §§ 342-350 and the balance of the original Act.
The petition likewise relied upon the Declaration of Taking Act of February 26, 1931, 46 Stat. 1421, 40 U.S.C. §§ 258a-258e; Third Deficiency Appropriation Act, fiscal year 1937, 50 Stat. 755, 773; Federal Public Buildings Appropriation Act of 1938, 52 Stat. 818; and the Reorganization Act of 1939, 53 Stat. 561, 5 U.S.C. § 133, et seq., under which Reorganization Plan I was submitted to Congress and made effective July 1, 1939, 53 Stat. 813, 5 U.S.C. § 133s.
When Congress has wished to subordinate its selection of state lands to state approval it has done so by express provision. In the Weeks Forestry Act of March 1, 1911, 36 Stat. 961, 962; 43 Stat. 1215; 45 Stat. 1010; 48 Stat. 955; 16 U.S.C. § 516, and the Migratory Bird Conservation Act of February 18, 1929, 45 Stat. 1222, 1223; 16 U.S.C. § 715f, the consent of the state legislature to the federal acquisition of land is made an express condition of the acceptance of such land. Such consent does not deprive the state of civil or criminal jurisdiction over the land. 36 Stat. 963, 16 U.S.C. § 480, and 45 Stat. 1224, 16 U.S.C. § 715g. See also, The Upper Mississippi River Wild Life and Fish Refuge Act of June 7, 1924, 43 Stat. 650, 16 U.S.C. § 724.
The acquisition of federal legislative jurisdiction, as distinguished from federal title to the land, is a different matter. If the Federal Government desires exclusive legislative jurisdiction over land acquired by it, the Constitution indicates that the consent of the state in which the land is located is necessary. Art. I, § 8, Cl. 17, provides that "The Congress shall have Power . . . To exercise exclusive Legislation . . . over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; . . . ." See Stockton v. Baltimore & N.Y.R. Co., 32 F. 9, 18, appeal dismissed, 140 U.S. 699. See also, Joint Resolution of September 11, 1841, 5 Stat. 468, and Rev. Stat. § 355, which formerly required the consent of state legislatures to federal purchases of certain sites as a condition of expending federal funds to pay for them. Since February 1, 1940, such consent has not been required except where the United States has sought "exclusive or partial" legislative jurisdiction. Unless and until the United States accepts such jurisdiction over lands acquired since February 1, 1940, it is presumed conclusively that no such jurisdiction has been accepted. 54 Stat. 19; 54 Stat. 1083; 40 U.S.C. § 255. The exercise of exclusive legislative jurisdiction is not an issue in this case and, in any event, Missouri has consented to it. "The consent of the State of Missouri is hereby given in accordance with the seventeenth clause, eighth section of the first article of the Constitution of the United States to the acquisition by the United States by purchase or grant of any land in this State which has been or may hereafter be acquired, for the purpose of establishing and maintaining postoffices, . .. ." Mo. Rev. Stat. Ann. (1939), § 12691.
"Capricious" is defined by Webster's New International Dictionary, 2d Ed. (1945), as "2. . . .; apt to change suddenly; freakish; whimsical; humorsome." Cf. Fox Film Corp. v. Trumbull, 7 F.2d 715, 727; Puget Sound Power & L. Co. v. Public Utility Dist. No. 1, 123 F.2d 286, 290, cert. denied, 315 U.S. 814; United States v. Eighty Acres of Land, 26 F.Supp. 315, 319.
The foregoing narration of the steps taken in this instance is not intended as an indication that all or any of them are essential to the exercise of the statutory authority to select sites in other cases. They are set forth to help demonstrate that, in the face of them, the selection here cannot be classed as "capricious and arbitrary," under any appropriate definition of those words.
"This recommendation is made because it is believed that the present location is the most outstanding site in this city, and because of the numerous limitations on all of the other competing sites which would prevent an advantageous or desirable transaction.
"For Second Choice I have selected Site No. 1, the city-owned park, which could be developed into an attractive setting for the new building, and which could no doubt be secured in an exchange resulting in mutual benefit to the city and Government. The bid submitted by the City is not intended to be a final offer, and it is expected that after a review of the facts by the Site Committee a counter-offer could be made with respect to a definite area of about 175' x 215' within the park grounds and with respect to improvements in surrounding approaches, removal of trees and fountain, and demolition of present city building. The mayor and city council verbally agreed to favor any reasonable counter-offer to be made by the Government. It is my opinion that the government-owned site is valued at approximately $225 per front foot, whereas the park site has a value of about $100 per front foot, and this must be taken into consideration in submitting a counter-offer. The question of the City Council's authority to make an exchange of this property is in dispute, but this could no doubt be settled by friendly condemnation proceedings, as the city officials are willing and desirous for the trade."
"Because of the divergence of opinion, the Chamber of Commerce in a recent meeting decided not to make any official comment as to a certain location. . . .
"The postmaster, who has no financial or personal interest in any of the locations, but who is conscientiously interested in civic development, regards the government-owned site as an outstanding location but recommends the city park as first choice because this trade would allow the city to retain a good improvement and allow the Federal Government to secure a site with attractive surroundings."
"The right of plaintiff to condemn the land must stand or fall on the determination by this court of the question, Did the Acting Administrator of Federal Works Agency and the Postmaster General, under the circumstances here presented, act arbitrarily and capriciously in selecting the site — was the act necessary? The term `arbitrarily and capriciously' has been defined to mean an act done `without adequate determining principle; not founded in the nature of things; not done or acting according to reason or judgment'; an unnecessary act. . . .
"That this action was taken by the Joint Committee, with information in their possession with respect to availability of other sites which shows unquestionably that the action of the plaintiff is unnecessary and the site selected is not now, nor was it when selected, the most desirable and available." (Italics supplied.) United States v. Certain Land, Etc., 55 F.Supp. 555, 557, 563.