339 U.S. 699 (1950), 12, United States v. Louisiana

Docket Nº:No. 12
Citation:339 U.S. 699, 70 S.Ct. 914, 94 L.Ed. 1216
Party Name:United States v. Louisiana
Case Date:June 05, 1950
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 699

339 U.S. 699 (1950)

70 S.Ct. 914, 94 L.Ed. 1216

United States

v.

Louisiana

No. 12

United States Supreme Court

June 5, 1950

Argued March 27, 1950

ORIGINAL

Syllabus

1. In this suit, brought in this Court by the United States against the Louisiana under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution, held: the United States is entitled to a decree adjudging and declaring the paramount rights of the United States as against Louisiana in the area claimed by Louisiana which lies under the Gulf of Mexico beyond the low water mark on the coast of Louisiana and outside of the inland waters, enjoining Louisiana and all persons claiming under it from continuing to trespass upon the area in violation of the rights of the United States, and requiring Louisiana to account for the money derived by it from the area after June 23, 1947. United States v. California, 332 U.S. 19. Pp. 700-706.

(a) Toomer v. Witsell, 334 U.S. 385; New Orleans v. United States, 10 Pet. 662; Pollard's Lessee v. Hagan, 3 How. 212, distinguished. P. 704.

(b) The marginal sea is a national, not a state, concern, and national rights are paramount in that area. United States v. California, supra. P. 704.

(c) Prior to its admission to the Union, Louisiana had no stronger claim to ownership of the marginal sea than the original thirteen colonies or California, and Louisiana stands on no better footing than California, so far as the three-mile belt is concerned. P. 705.

(d) Since the three-mile belt off the shore is in the domain of the Nation, rather than that of the separate States, it follows a fortiori that the area claimed by Louisiana extending 24 miles seaward beyond the three-mile belt is also in the domain of the Nation, rather than that of Louisiana. Pp. 705-706.

2. In ruling on a motion for leave to file the complaint in this case, 337 U.S. 902, this Court held, in effect, that Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution, granting this Court original jurisdiction in cases "in which a State shall be Party," includes cases brought by the United States against a State, notwithstanding a claim that the States have not consented to be sued by the Federal Government. P.701-702.

Page 700

3. In ruling on a demurrer and motions filed by the State of Louisiana, 338 U.S. 806, this Court held, in effect, that it had original jurisdiction of the parties and the subject matter; that lessees of oil, gas and other similar rights in the disputed area are not indispensable parties to the case, and that Louisiana was not entitled to a more definite statement of the claim of the United States or to a bill of particulars. P. 702.

4. This being an equity suit for an injunction and accounting, Louisiana was not entitled to a jury trial. Even if the Seventh Amendment and 28 U.S.C. § 1872 extend to cases under the original jurisdiction of this Court, they require jury trials only in actions at law. P. 706.

The case and the earlier proceedings herein are stated in the opinion at pp. 700-703. The conclusion that the United States is entitled to the relief prayed for is reported at p. 706.

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

[70 S.Ct. 915] MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The United States, by its Attorney General and its Solicitor General, brought this suit against the Louisiana, invoking our jurisdiction under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution which provides "In all Cases . . . in which a State shall be Party, the Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction."

Page 701

The complaint alleges that the United States was and is

the owner in fee simple of, or possessed of paramount rights in, and full dominion and power over, the lands, minerals, and other things underlying the Gulf of Mexico, lying seaward of the ordinary low-water mark on the coast of Louisiana and outside of the inland waters, extending seaward twenty-seven marine miles and bounded on the east and west, respectively, by the eastern and western boundaries of the State of Louisiana.

The complaint further alleges that Louisiana, claiming rights in that property adverse to the United States, has made leases under her statutes to various persons and corporations which have entered upon said lands, drilled wells for the recovery of petroleum, gas and other hydrocarbon substances, and paid Louisiana substantial sums of money in bonuses, rent, and royalties, but that neither Louisiana nor its lessees have recognized the rights of the United States in said property.

The prayer of the complaint is for a decree adjudging and declaring the right of the United States as against Louisiana in this property, enjoining Louisiana and all persons claiming under it from continuing to trespass upon the area in violation of the right of the United States, and requiring Louisiana to account for the money derived by it from the area subsequent to June 23, 1947.

Louisiana opposed the motion for leave to file the complaint, contending that the States have not consented to be sued by the Federal Government, and that United States v. Texas, 143 U.S. 621, which held that Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution, granting this Court original jurisdiction in cases "in which a State shall be Party," includes cases brought by the United States against a State should be overruled. We heard argument on the

Page 702

motion for leave to file and thereafter granted it. 337 U.S. 902, rehearing denied, 337 U.S. 928.

Louisiana then filed a demurrer asserting that the Court has no original jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter. She moved to dismiss on the ground that the lessees are indispensable parties to the case, and she also moved for a more definite statement of the claim of the United States and for a bill of particulars. The United States moved for judgment. The demurrer was overruled, Louisiana's motions denied, and the motion of the United States for judgment was denied, Louisiana being given 30 days in which to...

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