Kleppe v. New Mexico

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Kleppe v. New Mexico
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued March 23, 1976
Decided June 17, 1976
Full case name Thomas S. Kleppe, Secretary of the Interior v. New Mexico, et al.
Citations 426 U.S. 529 (more)
96 S.Ct. 2285; 49 L.Ed.2d 34
Prior history Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico
Holding
The Wildhorse and Burro 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.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Marshall, joined by unanimous

Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426 U.S. 529 (1976), was a United States Supreme Court decision, which unanimously held that the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971 (Pub.L. 92–195), passed in 1971 by the United States Congress to protect these animals from “capture, branding, harassment, or death,” was a constitutional exercise of congressional power. The New Mexico Livestock Board claimed the federal government did not have the power to control these animals unless they were items in interstate commerce or causing damage to the public lands. In February 1974, the board rounded up and sold 19 unbranded burros from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land. When the BLM demanded the animals’ return, the state filed suit claiming that the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act was unconstitutional.

Court Decision[edit]

Although the lower court found for the state, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed this decision. It wrote that the “‘complete power’ that Congress has over public lands necessarily includes the power to regulate and protect the wildlife living there.” In addition, the Supreme Court said that Congress may enact legislation governing federal lands pursuant to the property clause and “when Congress so acts, federal legislation necessarily overrides conflicting state laws under the supremacy clause.”

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Landres, Peter; Meyer, Shannon; Matthews, Sue (2001). "The Wilderness Act and Fish Stocking: An Overview of Legislation, Judicial Interpretation, and Agency Implementation". Ecosystems 4 (4): 287–295. doi:10.1007/s10021-001-0011-6.