1. In this suit, brought in this Court by the United States
against the Louisiana under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the
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
339 U. S.
(a) Toomer v. Witsell, 334 U.
; New Orleans v. United
10 Pet. 662; Pollard's
Lessee v. Hagan,
3 How. 212, distinguished. P.
339 U. S.
(b) The marginal sea is a national, not a state, concern, and
national rights are paramount in that area. United States v.
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.
(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
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.
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.
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.
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.
The case and the earlier proceedings herein are stated in the
opinion at pp. 339 U. S.
-703. The conclusion that the United States is
entitled to the relief prayed for is reported at p. 339 U. S.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS delivered the opinion of the Court.
The United States, by its Attorney General and its Solicitor
General, brought this suit against the Louisiana, invoking our
jurisdiction under Art. III, § 2, Cl. 2 of the Constitution which
provides "In all Cases . . . in which a State shall be Party, the
Supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction."
Page 339 U. S. 701
The complaint alleges that the United States was and is
"the owner in fee simple of, or possessed of paramount rights
in, and full dominion and power over, the lands, minerals, and
other things underlying the Gulf of Mexico, lying seaward of the
ordinary low-water mark on the coast of Louisiana and outside of
the inland waters, extending seaward twenty-seven marine miles and
bounded on the east and west, respectively, by the eastern and
western boundaries of the State of Louisiana."
The complaint further alleges that Louisiana, claiming rights in
that property adverse to the United States, has made leases under
her statutes to various persons and corporations which have entered
upon said lands, drilled wells for the recovery of petroleum, gas
and other hydrocarbon substances, and paid Louisiana substantial
sums of money in bonuses, rent, and royalties, but that neither
Louisiana nor its lessees have recognized the rights of the United
States in said property.
The prayer of the complaint is for a decree adjudging and
declaring the right of the United States as against Louisiana in
this property, enjoining Louisiana and all persons claiming under
it from continuing to trespass upon the area in violation of the
right of the United States, and requiring Louisiana to account for
the money derived by it from the area subsequent to June 23,
Louisiana opposed the motion for leave to file the complaint,
contending that the States have not consented to be sued by the
Federal Government, and that United States v. Texas,
143 U. S. 621
which held 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 should be overruled. We heard argument on the
Page 339 U. S. 702
motion for leave to file and thereafter granted it. 337 U.S.
902, rehearing denied,
337 U.S. 928.
Louisiana then filed a demurrer asserting that the Court has no
original jurisdiction of the parties or of the subject matter. She
moved to dismiss on the ground that the lessees are indispensable
parties to the case, and she also moved for a more definite
statement of the claim of the United States and for a bill of
particulars. The United States moved for judgment. The demurrer was
overruled, Louisiana's motions denied, and the motion of the United
States for judgment was denied, Louisiana being given 30 days in
which to file an answer. 338 U.S. 806.
In her answer, Louisiana admits that
"the United States has paramount rights in, and full dominion
and power over, the lands, minerals and other things underlying the
Gulf of Mexico adjacent to the coast of Louisiana, to the extent of
all governmental powers existing under the Constitution, laws, and
treaties of the United States,"
but asserts that there are no conflicting claims of governmental
powers to authorize the use of the bed of the Gulf of Mexico for
the purpose of searching for and producing oil and other natural
resources, on which the relief sought by the United States depends,
since the Congress has not adopted any law which asserts such
federal authority over the bed of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana
therefore contends that there is no actual justiciable controversy
between the parties. Louisiana, in her answer, denies that the
United States has a fee simple title to the lands, minerals, and
other things underlying the Gulf of Mexico. As affirmative
defenses, Louisiana asserts that she is the holder of fee simple
title to all the lands, minerals, and other things in controversy,
and that, since she was admitted into the Union in 1812, she has
exercised continuous, undisturbed and unchallenged sovereignty and
possession over the property in question.
Page 339 U. S. 703
Louisiana also moved for trial by jury. She asserts that this
suit, involving title to the beds of tidewaters, is essentially an
action at law, and that the Seventh Amendment and 62 Stat. 953, 28
U.S.C. § 1872, require a jury. [Footnote 1
The United States then moved for judgment on the ground that
Louisiana's asserted defenses were insufficient in law. We set the
case down for argument on that motion.
The territory out of which Louisiana was created was purchased
by the United States from France for $15,000,000 under the Treaty
of April 30, 1803, 8 Stat. 200. In 1804, the area thus acquired was
divided into two territories, one being designated as the Territory
of Orleans, 2 Stat. 283. By the Enabling Act of February 20, 1811,
2 Stat. 641, the inhabitants of the Territory of Orleans were
authorized to form a constitution and a state government. By the
Act of April 8, 1812, 2 Stat. 701, 703, Louisiana was admitted to
the Union "on an equal footing with the original states, in all
respects whatever." And as respects the southern boundary, that Act
recited that Louisiana was "bounded by the said gulf [of Mexico]. .
. including all islands within three leagues of the coast."
] In 1938, Louisiana
by statute declared its southern boundary to be twenty-seven marine
miles from the shoreline. [Footnote
Page 339 U. S. 704
We think United States v. California, 332 U. S.
, controls this case, and that there must be a decree
for the complainant.
We lay aside such cases as Toomer v. Witsell,
334 U. S. 385
334 U. S. 393
where a State's regulation of coastal waters below the low-water
mark collides with the interests of a person not acting on behalf
of or under the authority of the United States. The question here
is not the power of a State to use the marginal sea or to regulate
its use in absence of a conflicting federal policy; it is the power
of a State to deny the paramount authority which the United States
seeks to assert over the area in question. We also put to one side
New Orleans v. United
10 Pet. 662, holding that title to or
dominion over certain lots and vacant land along the river in the
City of New Orleans did not pass to the United States under the
treaty of cession, but remained in the City. Such cases, like those
involving ownership of the land under the inland waters (see,
for example, 44 U. S.
3 How. 212), are irrelevant here. As we pointed out in
United States v. California,
the issue in this class of
litigation does not turn on title or ownership in the conventional
sense. California, like the thirteen original colonies, never
acquired ownership in the marginal sea. The claim to our three-mile
belt was first asserted by the national government. Protection and
control of the area are indeed functions of national external
sovereignty. 332 U.S. pp. 332 U. S. 31
The marginal sea is a national, not a state, concern. National
interests, national responsibilities, national concerns are
involved. The problems of commerce, national defense, relations
with other powers, war, and peace focus there. National rights must
therefore be paramount in that area.
That is the rationale of United States v. California.
It is fully elaborated in the opinion of the Court in that case,
and does not need repetition.
Page 339 U. S. 705
We have carefully considered the extended and able argument of
Louisiana in all its aspects, and have found no reason why
Louisiana stands on a better footing than California so far as the
three-mile belt is concerned. The national interest in that belt is
as great off the shoreline of Louisiana as it is off the shoreline
of California. And there are no material differences in the
preadmission or post-admission history of Louisiana that make her
case stronger than California's. Louisiana, prior to admission, had
no stronger claim to ownership of the marginal sea than the
original thirteen colonies or California had. Moreover, the
national dominion in the three-mile belt has not been sacrificed or
ceded away in either case. The United States, acting through its
Attorney General, who has authority to assert claims of this
character and to invoke our jurisdiction in a federal-state
controversy (United States v. California,
pp. 332 U. S. 26
now claims its paramount rights in this domain.
There is one difference, however, between Louisiana's claim and
California's. The latter claimed rights in the three-mile belt.
Louisiana claims rights twenty-four miles seaward of the three-mile
belt. We need note only briefly this difference. We intimate no
opinion on the power of a State to extend, define, or establish its
external territorial limits, or on the consequences of any such
extension vis a vis
persons other than the United States
or those acting on behalf of or pursuant to its authority. The
matter of state boundaries has no bearing on the present problem.
If, as we held in California's case, the three-mile belt is in the
domain of the nation, rather than that of the separate States, it
follows a fortiori
that the ocean beyond that limit also
is. The ocean seaward of the marginal belt is perhaps even more
directly related to the national defense, the conduct of foreign
affairs, and world commerce than is the marginal sea. Certainly it
is not less so. So far as the issues presented here are
Page 339 U. S. 706
concerned, Louisiana's enlargement of her boundary emphasizes
the strength of the claim of the United States to this part of the
ocean and the resources of the soil under that area, including
Louisiana's motion for a jury trial is denied. We need not
examine it beyond noting that this is an equity action for an
injunction and accounting. The Seventh Amendment and the statute,
] assuming they
extend to cases under our original jurisdiction, are applicable
only to actions at law. See Shields v.
18 How. 253, 59 U. S. 262
Barton v. Barbour, 104 U. S. 126
104 U. S.
We hold that the United States is entitled to the relief prayed
for. The parties, or either of them, may, before September 15,
1950, submit the form of decree to carry this opinion into
MR. JUSTICE JACKSON and MR. JUSTICE CLARK took no part in the
consideration or decision of this case.
[For opinion of MR. JUSTICE FRANKFURTER in this case and in No.
13, Original, United States v. Texas, see post,
339 U. S.
The Seventh Amendment provides:
"In suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall
exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be
preserved, and no fact tried by a jury shall be otherwise
reexamined in any Court of the United States than according to the
rules of the common law."
28 U.S.C. § 1872 provides: "In all original actions at law in
the Supreme Court against citizens of the United States, issues of
fact shall be tried by a jury."
Dart, Louisiana Constitutions (1932) p.
6 Dart, La.Gen.Stats. (1939) §§ 9311.1-9311.4, Act No. 55 of
1938, §§ 1-4.
See note 1