Camfield v. United States
United States Supreme Court
167 U.S. 518 (1897)
Congress granted millions of acres of land to railroads to encourage development in new states and territories. These grants typically consisted of odd-numbered sections of surveyed land, creating checkerboard patterns of ownership. Ranchers who purchased large tracts of land from the railroads often attempted to fence in adjacent public lands to monopolize their use. In 1893, Daniel Camfield and William Drury (defendants) constructed a fence on odd-numbered parcels of their land, with the completely enclosed even-numbered sections still owned by the United States (plaintiff). Congress had passed the Unlawful Inclosures Act (UIA) in 1885 to prevent obstructions that inhibited “free passage or transit over or through the public lands,” such as these fences. Under the authority of this statute, the United States sued the defendants in federal circuit court in Colorado to compel removal of the fence. The defendants responded that gates between the sections of land permitted access to the federal lands and that their use of the land furthered public policy encouraging development in the West. Additionally, the defendants argued that the UIA would be unconstitutional if interpreted to ban fencing on private property. The circuit court entered a decree in favor of the United States, and the court of appeals affirmed. The defendants appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Brown, J.)
What to do next…
Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.
You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.
Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.
Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.
Here's why 176,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
- The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
- Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
- Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.