Smith v. Maryland
59 U.S. 71 (1855)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Smith v. Maryland, 59 U.S. 18 How. 71 71 (1855)

Smith v. Maryland

59 U.S. (18 How.) 71

Syllabus

The soil below low water mark in the Chesapeake Bay, within the boundaries of Maryland, belongs to the state, subject to any lawful grants of that soil by the state or the sovereign power which governed its territory before the Declaration of Independence.

But this soil is held by the state not only subject to, but in some sense in trust for, the enjoyment of certain public rights, among which is the common liberty of taking fish, as well shellfish as floating fish.

The state has a right to protect this fishery by making it unlawful to take or catch oysters with a scoop or drag, and to inflict the penalty of forfeiture upon the vessel employed in this pursuit.

Such a law is not repugnant to the Constitution of the United States, although the vessel which is forfeited is enrolled and licensed for the coasting trade under an act of congress.

Neither is it repugnant to the Constitution as interfering with the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the judicial power of the United States.

Nor is the law liable to an objection that no oath is required before issuing a warrant to arrest the vessel. That clause of the Constitution refers only to process issued under the authority of the United States.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 59 U. S. 72

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