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

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

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

United States v. Louisiana

No. 12

Argued March 27, 1950

Decided June 5, 1950

339 U.S. 699

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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 701-702.

Page 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 706.

The case and the earlier proceedings herein are stated in the opinion at pp. 339 U. S. 700-703. The conclusion that the United States is entitled to the relief prayed for is reported at p. 339 U. S. 706.

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