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

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

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

United States v. Texas

No. 13

Argued March 28, 1950

Decided June 5, 1950

339 U.S. 707

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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 719.

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

Page 339 U. S. 708

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. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 699. P. 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 715, 339 U. S. 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. 339 U. S. 709-710.

The case and the earlier proceedings herein are stated in the opinion at pp. 339 U. S. 709-712. The conclusion that the United States is entitled to the relief prayed for is reported at p. 339 U. S. 720.

Page 339 U. S. 709

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