United States v. Louisiana - 485 U.S. 88 (1988)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Louisiana, 485 U.S. 88 (1988)

United States v. Louisiana

No. 9, Orig

Argued January 11, 1988

Decided March 1, 1988

485 U.S. 88

Syllabus

In its 1985 opinion in this litigation, the Court ruled that Alabama and Mississippi, rather than the United States, own their respective portions of the bed under Mississippi Sound, and directed the parties to submit to the Special Master a proposed appropriate decree. 470 U. S. 93. Mississippi and the United States submitted proposed supplemental decrees which reflected their disagreement as to Mississippi's coastline at two points (Alabama's coastline is no longer in dispute). The first point of contention occurs between two islands along the Sound's southern boundary. The second point involves Mississippi's claimed interest in seabed south of Mississippi Sound in the vicinity of Chandeleur Sound. In his Supplemental Report, the Master concluded (a) that the decree proposed by Mississippi should not be entered, and (b) that, while the United States' solution as to the second disputed point would be preferable, it would amount to a modification of the Court's 1985 opinion because it would be beyond the scope of the reference to the Master, which concerned only Mississippi Sound and its boundary. The Master recommended that the Court enter an order directing the parties to submit a decree defining the coastline of Alabama and Mississippi "to the extent agreed upon"; defining Mississippi's coastline as to the first disputed point as proposed by the United States; and defining Mississippi's coastline as to the second point as lying along a described line heading west from an island on Mississippi Sound's southern boundary to the Louisiana border. Mississippi noted exceptions relating only to the second point of contention, and not at all to the first contention. The United States is in opposition.

Held:

1. Since the current phase of this litigation has so far dealt only with Mississippi Sound, and has not focused on Mississippi's interest south of that Sound, this Court will not on the present record determine the extent of Mississippi's rights thereto without the parties' complete agreement and the Special Master's ready acquiescence. However, any party may advance such claims as it might have with respect to the area south of Mississippi Sound and in the vicinity of Chandeleur Sound by filing a timely complaint in these proceedings. Pp. 485 U. S. 92-93.

Page 485 U. S. 89

2. Because Mississippi's presently pending objections do not relate to Mississippi Sound nor contest the validity of that Sound's closing lines recommended by the Master, all parties are in agreement as to that Sound and its boundary. P. 485 U. S. 92.

Exceptions of Mississippi overruled, and Special Master's Supplemental Report and his recommendations, to the extent they are consistent with this opinion, adopted and confirmed.



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