339 U.S. 707 (1950), 13, United States v. Texas

Docket Nº:No. 13
Citation:339 U.S. 707, 70 S.Ct. 918, 94 L.Ed. 1221
Party Name:United States v. Texas
Case Date:June 05, 1950
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 707

339 U.S. 707 (1950)

70 S.Ct. 918, 94 L.Ed. 1221

United States

v.

Texas

No. 13

United States Supreme Court

June 5, 1950

Argued March 28, 1950

ORIGINAL

Syllabus

1. In this suit, brought in this Court by the United States against the Texas 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 Texas in the area claimed by Texas which lies under the Gulf of Mexico beyond the low water mark on the coast of Texas and outside the inland waters, enjoining Texas and all persons claiming under it from continuing to trespass upon the area in violation of the rights of the United States, and requiring Texas to account to the United States for all money derived by it from the area after June 23, 1947. Pp. 709-720.

2. Even if Texas had both dominium and imperium in and over this marginal belt when she existed as an independent Republic, any claim that she may have had to the marginal sea was relinquished to the United States when Texas ceased to be an independent Nation and was admitted to the Union "on an equal footing with the existing States" pursuant to the Joint Resolution of March 1, 1845, 5 Stat. 797. Pp. 715-720.

(a) The "equal footing" clause was designed not to wipe out economic diversities among the several States, but to create parity as respects political standing and sovereignty. P. 716.

(b) The "equal footing" clause negatives any implied, special limitation of any of the paramount powers of the United States in favor of a State. P. 717.

(c) Although dominium and imperium are normally separable and separate, this is an instance where property interests are so subordinated to the rights of sovereignty as to follow sovereignty. P. 719.

(d) If the property, whatever it may be, lies seaward of low water mark, its use, disposition, management, and control involve national interests and national responsibilities, thereby giving rise to paramount national rights in it. United States v. California, 332 U.S. 19. P. 719.

(e) The "equal footing" clause prevents extension of the sovereignty of a State into the domain of political and sovereign power

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of the United States from which the other States have been excluded, just as it prevents a contraction of sovereignty which would reduce inequality among the States. Pp. 719-720.

3. That Texas in 1941 sought to extend its boundary to a line in the Gulf of Mexico 24 marine miles beyond the three-mile limit and asserted ownership of the bed within that area and in 1947 sought to extend the boundary to the outer edge of the continental shelf do not require a different result. United States v. Louisiana, ante, p. 699. P. 720.

4. The motions of Texas for an order to take depositions and for the appointment of a special master are denied, because there is no need to take evidence in this case. Pp. 715, 720.

5. In ruling on a motion by the United States for leave to file the complaint in this case, 337 U.S. 902, and on a motion by Texas to dismiss the complaint for want of original jurisdiction, 338 U.S. 806, this Court, in effect, held that it had original jurisdiction under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution, even though Texas had not consented to be sued. Pp. 709-710.

The case and the earlier proceedings herein are stated in the opinion at pp. 709-712. The conclusion that the United States is entitled to the relief prayed for is reported at p. 720.

Page 709

DOUGLAS, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This suit, like its companion United States v. Louisiana, ante, p. 699, invokes our original jurisdiction under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution and puts into issue the conflicting claims of the parties to oil and other products under the bed of the ocean below low-water mark off the shores of Texas.

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 Texas and outside of the inland waters, extending seaward to the outer edge of the continental shelf and bounded on the east and southwest, respectively, by the eastern boundary of the Texas and the boundary between the United States and Mexico.

The complaint is in other material respects identical with that filed against Louisiana. The prayer is for a decree adjudging and declaring the rights of the United States as against Texas in the above-described area, enjoining Texas and all persons claiming under it from continuing to trespass upon the area in violation of the rights of the United States, and requiring Texas to account to the United States for all money derived by it from the area subsequent to June 23, 1947.

Texas opposed the motion for leave to file the complaint on the grounds that the Attorney General was not authorized to bring the suit and that the suit, if brought, should be instituted in a District Court. And Texas, like Louisiana, moved to dismiss on the ground that, since Texas had not consented to be sued, the Court

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had no original jurisdiction of the suit. After argument, we granted the motion for leave to file the complaint. 337 U.S. 902. Texas then moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that the suit did not come within the original jurisdiction of the Court. She also moved for a more definite statement or for a bill of particulars and for an extension of time to answer. The United States then moved for judgment. These various motions were denied, and Texas was granted thirty days to file an answer. 338 U.S. 806.

Texas, in her answer, as later amended, renews her objection that this case is not one of which the Court has original jurisdiction; denies that the United States is or ever has been the owner of the lands, minerals, etc., underlying the Gulf of Mexico within the disputed area; denies that the United States is or ever has been possessed of paramount rights in or full dominion over the lands, minerals, etc., underlying the Gulf of Mexico within said area except [70 S.Ct. 920] the paramount power to control, improve, and regulate navigation which under the Commerce Clause the United States has over lands beneath all navigable waters and except the same dominion and paramount power which the United States has over uplands within the United States, whether privately or state owned; denies that these or any other paramount powers or rights of the United States include ownership or the right to take or develop or authorize the taking or developing of oil or other minerals in the area in dispute without compensation to Texas; denies that any paramount powers or rights of the United States include the right to control or to prevent the taking or developing of these minerals by Texas or her lessees except when necessary in the exercise of the paramount federal powers, as recognized by Texas, and when duly authorized by appropriate action of the Congress; admits that she claims rights, title, and interests in said lands, minerals, etc., and says that her rights include ownership and the right

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to take, use, lease, and develop these properties; admits that she has leased some of the lands in the area and received royalties from the lessees, but denies that the United States is entitled to any of them, and denies that she has no title to or interest in any of the lands in the disputed area.

As an affirmative defense, Texas asserts that, as an independent nation, the Republic of Texas had open, adverse, and exclusive possession and exercised jurisdiction and control over the land, minerals, etc., underlying that part of the Gulf of Mexico within her boundaries established at three marine leagues from shore by her First Congress and acquiesced in by the United States and other major nations; that, when Texas was annexed to the United States, the claim and rights of Texas to this land, minerals, etc., were recognized and preserved in Texas; that Texas continued, as a State, to hold open, adverse, and exclusive possession, jurisdiction, and control of these lands, minerals, etc., without dispute, challenge or objection by the United States; that the United States has recognized and acquiesced in this claim and these rights; that Texas, under the doctrine of prescription, has established such title, ownership, and sovereign rights in the area as preclude the granting of the relief prayed.

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