Michigan v. Ohio

LOCATION: Wisconsin Eastern U.S. District Courthouse

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 410 US 420 (1973)
ARGUED: Dec 11, 1972
DECIDED: Feb 22, 1973

Charles F. Keeley - for plaintiff
Charles S. Rawlings - for defendant

Facts of the case


Media for Michigan v. Ohio

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 11, 1972 in Michigan v. Ohio

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Keeley, you may proceed whenever you’re ready.

Charles F. Keeley:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

Michigan instituted this action back in 1966 tactically on the invitation of Governor Rhodes who indicated that it would be quicker to solve the controversy between the north cape of Maumee Bay to the international boundary.

We filed this matter with this Court was referred to Special Master Maris for hearing.

He held several hearings and finally he made a report.

It is this report for which Michigan has found some exceptions.

The first exception that the State of Michigan finds is that the Special Master did not correctly relocate the north cape of Maumee Bay.

I would refer you to finding number 31 in which he said that the location of the north cape of Maumee Bay can be found by referring to Captain Anthony -- to Captain A. Talcott’s survey.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Keeley.

Charles F. Keeley:

Yes, sir?

I beg your pardon.

Warren E. Burger:

Could you tell us what page on the -- would it be Page 15?

Charles F. Keeley:

Yes, Page 15.

At that time, it was recognized by the Special Master that that is a correct conclusion as to what the north cape of Maumee Bay was in 1835.

There was absolutely no evidence in this record to say that the north cape had washed away by 1836.

So we would submit that this is the better method of finding the north cape of Maumee Bay and we’d also like to cite the matter of Chinoweth versus Haskell, which 28 United States Reports Page 92.

This case said that courses and distances should be regarded in locating boundaries.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Mr. Keeley, will you somewhat enlighten me as to why this case is very important to the State of Michigan?

Are there islands or -- that are at issue or is the land under the water important some time or is it just because you want the matter finally determined?

Charles F. Keeley:

No, I think the rules in that this case began, Your Honor, is because there was oil and gas believed to have been underneath this water and additionally there have been some other mineral developments that are not in the record at all but are important to both states.

Harry A. Blackmun:

I see, well that’s -- it just hadn’t come clear to me and I wondered what was all about.

Charles F. Keeley:

When the Special Master made his relocation of the north cape of the Maumee Bay, he did not determine pursuant to the statute of 1836, that’s June 15, 1836, but he relied on the survey by Engineer Gannet when there was a joint commission between -- provided by these two states to survey the land boundary.

And when he relocated that line, he used the same degree of measurement from Post 70 to 71 until it intersected with itself, 45 degree angle from the existing seawall on Turtle Island.

That is why we believe that our position is correct because it is a contemporary with the statute of 1836.

It was a statute and a report of which was before the Congress at that time that the statute was passed.

Judge Maris assumed that the line would be North 87 degrees 49 minutes and 44 seconds East and there is no way you can do that except by going back to this previous survey in the teams of the 1900, teams of the 20th century, and this is not where it should -- should have located.

He should have gone back to the survey just prior to the passing of the statute.

Thurgood Marshall:

The indispensable adequacy of the Congress drew the line that you say that drew in 1836 West Sister Island would be in Michigan.

The Senate didn’t mean to do that, did they?

Charles F. Keeley:

What island would be in Michigan?