Marine Railway & Coal Co., Inc. v. United States
257 U.S. 47 (1921)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Marine Railway & Coal Co., Inc. v. United States, 257 U.S. 47 (1921)

Marine Railway & Coal Company, Inc. v. United States

No. 45

Argued October 18, 1921

Decided November 7, 1921

257 U.S. 47

Syllabus

1. The jurisdiction of this Court to review judgments of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia "in cases in which the jurisdiction of the trial court is in issue" (Jud.Code § 250, cl. 1) attaches to a case originating in the Supreme Court of the District in which the issue concerned the territorial limits of that court's jurisdiction. P. 257 U. S. 62.

2. The Supreme Court of the District of Columbia being a court of general jurisdiction, there is no occasion to limit the natural scope of Jud.Code, § 250, cl. 1, after the manner in which the similarly worded § 238, applicable to the district courts of the United States, has been confined to cases in which their jurisdiction as federal courts is involved. P. 257 U. S. 62.

3. A certificate of the question of jurisdiction is not necessary, under Jud.Code § 250, supra, where the issue was clearly made by plea, and a certificate could add nothing to the record. P. 257 U. S. 62.

4. Quaere whether the rule construing the sixth clause of Jud.Code § 250, as conferring jurisdiction only when the law drawn in question, is of general application throughout the United States, as distinguished from one local to the District, would apply in a case involving a statute fixing the boundary of the District. P. 257 U. S. 62. Cf. American Security & Trust Co. v. District of Columbia,224 U. S. 491.

5. The original title of Maryland, to which the United States succeeded in the District of Columbia, extended at least to the low water mark or the Virginia side of the Potomac River. P. 257 U. S. 63.

Page 257 U. S. 48

See Maryland v. West Virginia,217 U. S. 1, 217 U. S. 45-46; id.,217 U. S. 577-578, and Morrii v. United States,174 U. S. 196.

6. The Maryland title was not affected by later charters granted by James I to Virginia. P. 257 U. S. 63.

7. A grant made by the Governor of Virginia to one Howsing in 1669, with a boundary "extending down Potomack River by various courses 3152 po. making a S. Wtly line to a pokecory," etc., and "including several small creeks or inlets," held consistent with as well as subordinate to the Maryland grant, merely following the line of the stream, and not intended to include an indentation or cove. P. 257 U. S. 63.

8. The grant made by Virginia to the United States of territory formerly included in the District of Columbia and its regrant by the United States did not enlarge Virginia's rights as they were originally. P. 257 U. S. 63.

9. The compact entered into between Virginia and Maryland in 1785 to regulate commerce, which provided, inter alia, that the Potomac should be a common highway for purposes of navigation and commerce to the citizens of both states, and gave the citizens of each full property in the shores of the river adjoining their lands, with wharfing and fishing rights, did not settle the question of boundary between the states. P. 257 U. S. 63.

10. The arbitration of boundary between Virginia and Maryland, the award in which was accepted by those states in 1878 and assented to by the United States (Act of March 3, 1879, c.196, 20 Stat. 481) fixing the line at low water mark on the Virginia side of the Potomac drawn from headland to headland, did not involve or affect the boundary as between Virginia and the District of Columbia. P. 257 U. S. 64.

11. The filling in and adverse occupation of land originally below low water mark on the Virginia side of the Potomac under an erroneous claim that the Virginia line included a cove in which the land was situated by extending from headland to headland gave no prescriptive right, as against Maryland or the United States, to land lying in the cove and below low water next to the areas so filled, even though the claim was supported by Virginia statutes. P. 257 U. S. 65.

12. The description of the District of Columbia in the Revised Statutes relating thereto, June 22, 1874, § 1, as "including the River Potomac in its course through the District," imports an assertion by Congress that the title of the United States embraces the whole river, and the jurisdiction of the District over the river seems to have been exercised without dispute. P. 257 U. S. 65.

Page 257 U. S. 49

13. The United States is entitled to the possession of land in the District which it has reclaimed by filling below low water line on the Virginia side, though access to the water from private lands adjacent be thereby interrupted. P

49 App.DC. 285, 265 F. 437 affirmed.

Error to review a judgment of the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia which affirmed a judgment of the Supreme Court of the District in favor of the United States in a suit brought by the United States to recover a strip of made land on the Potomac River.

Page 257 U. S. 61

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