Cappaert v. United States
United States Supreme Court
426 U.S. 128 (1976)
The Antiquities Act of 1906 (Antiquities Act) authorized the president of the United States to proclaim objects of historic or scientific interest to be national monuments. In 1952, President Harry Truman proclaimed under the Antiquities Act that Devil’s Hole, a limestone cavern in Nevada containing a pool of water, was part of a national monument. The proclamation stated that Devil’s Hole merited special protection because of its outstanding scientific importance and unusual features, including unique desert fish that lived in the pool. The Cappaerts (defendants) owned a ranch near Devil’s Hole. In 1968, the Cappaerts began to pump groundwater two-and-a-half miles from Devil’s Hole. Because the groundwater shared an underground basin with Devil’s Hole, the pumping reduced the pool’s water level. The Cappaerts requested permission from the Nevada state engineer (state engineer) (defendant) to change the water use for several of their wells. The federal government (government) (plaintiff) objected on the basis that continued pumping would harm the desert fish. The state engineer rejected the government’s objection. The government sought an injunction in federal court to limit the Cappaerts’ pumping. The district court issued the injunction, finding that the president’s proclamation expressed an intent to reserve the pool’s unappropriated water. The court of appeals affirmed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari to review. The Cappaerts argued that the Antiquities Act applied only to archaeological sites, and that the Desert Land Act of 1877 (Desert Act) required the government to perfect its water rights according to state law. The State of Nevada (defendant) intervened on behalf of the state engineer, arguing that the implied-reservation-of-water-rights doctrine required interest balancing and did not apply to groundwater.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Burger, C.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 707,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Berkeley, and Northwestern—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students.Unlock this case briefRead 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.Learn about our approachRead more about Quimbee
Here's why 707,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:
- Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 44,500 briefs, keyed to 983 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.