People of the State of California v. Smithsonian Institution v. County of San Bernardino - - Museum

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State of California and County of San Bernardino brought suit against the Smithsonian to prevent removal of the 6,070 pound Old Woman meteorite that was found on federal land in Southern California. The actions were consolidated and dismissed. The plaintiffs then appealed. The Court of Appeals ruled that 1) Department of Interior has broad discretionary power to dispose of objects found on federal land under the Antiquities Act; 2) Secretary of Interior did not violate regulations by authorizing removal to the Smithsonian; 3) Secretary did not need to hold hearing before doing so; 4) plaintiffs did not demonstrate a right to a hearing; 5) Secretary of Interior's decision was rational; and 6) complaint did not state a claim for relief. Circuit Judge Kennedy dissented on a procedural matter.


  • Andrus, Cecil D
  • Hillier, Gerald E
  • Mead, Giles W
  • Ripley, Sidney Dillon 1913-2001
  • United States Antiquities Act of 1906
  • Old Woman Meteorite
  • United States Dept. of the Interior
  • United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit


Smithsonian Legal Documents

Legal document information

  • 618 F.2d 618 (1980)
  • Title 20, Education
  • Court case


See files relating to this case in Record Unit 373, Office of the Coordinator of Public Information, Records, 1977-1984, Box 3; and Accession #85-071, Office of the General Counsel, Records, Litigation, 1964-1984, Boxes 31 and 32, in Smithsonian Institution Archives.

Contained within

618 Federal Reporter, 2nd series (Book)

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


  • 1980
  • 03/15/1980


  • Antiquities: Law and legislation: United States
  • Meteorites
  • Actions and defenses
  • Antiquities: Collection and preservation
  • Dissenting opinions
  • National Collections
  • Law: Antiquities
  • Meteorology


  • San Bernardino County (Calif.)
  • California


Court case

Physical description

Number of pages: 5; Page Numbers: 618-622

Full Record

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