The purpose of this article is to analyze the cases prior and subsequent to Clearfield Trust Co. v. United States involving the question of what law the United States courts apply when the federal sovereign is acquiring real property. These cases, which necessarily involve almost exclusively federal condemnation matters, indicate that both the Clearfield doctrine and the limitation thereon amplified in United States v. Standard Oil are applicable; that is, that both federal and state rules may come into play. An attempt is made herein to reconcile these cases and formulate some criteria for a proper resolution of the issues involved. Before this is undertaken, however, it is necessary to describe very briefly the history of federal condemnations in order that the problem may be more completely understood.

I. Introduction

II. The Background

III. The Basic Case Law … A. The Substantive-Procedural Distinction Further Considered … B. Cases Applying Federal Law to State-Related Issues … C. The Latest Supreme Court Case … D. A Unified Approach to the Cases

IV. Conclusion