Georgia v. South Carolina Page 2

Georgia v. South Carolina general information

Media for Georgia v. South Carolina

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 08, 1990 in Georgia v. South Carolina

Patricia T. Barmeyer:

The Special Master found that the 1955 map was the earliest authoritative map of the area, and it was on the 1855 map that he drew the recommended boundary line.

On this map the Savannah River flows from upstream, which is at the left, to the Atlantic Ocean, which is on the right.

The State of South Carolina is at the top of the map.

The State of Georgia is at the bottom of the map.

The city of Savannah is on the left.

The Special Master's recommended boundary line is shown in yellow, and Georgia's exceptions are shown in red.

Antonin Scalia:

I know this much already: you're in big trouble.


Patricia T. Barmeyer:

I'm trying to be sure we're all together at the outset.

I think we're with you.

It may take more than that.

Patricia T. Barmeyer:

Before I go to the specific areas in dispute, I'd like to remind the Court of the controlling document here, which is the Treaty of Beaufort in 1787, which was entered into by Georgia and South Carolina.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

Is the whole... is the entire treaty anywhere in your briefs?

Patricia T. Barmeyer:

Yes, sir.

It is Appendix A, actually Articles 1 and Articles 2 are Appendix A to Georgia's brief and exceptions.

Anthony M. Kennedy:

But that's not the entire treaty.

Is the entire treaty anywhere in the briefs?

Patricia T. Barmeyer:

It is in evidence, Your Honor, and those exhibits have been sent to the Court.

By the treaty, the boundary between Georgia and South Carolina is the most northern branch or stream of the river, expressly reserving all islands in the river to Georgia.

This Court had occasion to consider the Treaty of Beaufort in the case of Georgia v. South Carolina in 1922, and the Court further explicated that boundary and determined that the boundary is the geographic middle of the boundary stream, irrespective of the navigation channel or thalweg of the river.

The Court reaffirmed that all islands in the Savannah River are in Georgia.

The Court also stated in 1922 that the boundary stream may be narrow and shallow and insignificant, as compared to the main body of the river, but that doesn't matter if it is the northernmost branch or stream of the river.

Now, first I would like to direct your attention to the Barnwell Island area.

It is about two miles downstream from the city of Savannah, and on this map it is directly north of the inset map, which is simply a slightly larger view of the Barnwell Island area.

The Barnwell Islands were islands of marsh in the Savannah River and were in Georgia by the terms of the Treaty of Beaufort in 1787.

By the evulsive actions of the Corps of Engineers, they became attached to the South Carolina shore.

With the continued improvement and dredging for navigation purposes, improvement of the river and the deposit of dredged material on these marshy islands, they have--

Harry A. Blackmun:

That's a curious way of putting that, evulsive actions of the Corps of Engineers.

I didn't know they were engaged in evulsion.

Patricia T. Barmeyer:

--Well, Your Honor, they have evulsed up and down the Savannah River.