Mississippi v. Arkansas

LOCATION:U.S. District Court

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1972-1975)

CITATION: 415 US 289 (1974)
ARGUED: Dec 05, 1973
DECIDED: Feb 26, 1974

Mitchell E. Ward – for the plaintiff
William H. Drew – for defendant

Facts of the case


Media for Mississippi v. Arkansas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 05, 1973 in Mississippi v. Arkansas

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – February 26, 1974 in Mississippi v. Arkansas

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Justice Blackmun will announce the disposition of original number 48, Mississippi against Arkansas.

Harry A. Blackmun:

Well, this original action by the state of Mississippi against the state of Arkansas is one to fix and determine the boundary line between the two states in the old bed of the Mississippi river between the ends of what is now known as the Tarpley Cut-off in the area where Arkansas’ Chicot County and Mississippi’s Washington County adjoin.

We granted Mississippi’s motion to file a Bill of Complaint and referred the matter to a special master.

He held hearings and has issued and filed his report.

His findings favored Mississippi and his recommended decree is line with those findings.

Arkansas filed Exceptions and the case had been briefed and argued orally here.

What it comes down to is the rather common situation as to whether a certain area known as Luna Bar came into being by gradual migration of the Mississippi river westward or instead by some of avulsive process to the west.

As this factual issue is resolved, Mississippi or Arkansas will prevail.

That is if Luna Bar was formed by a accretion Mississippi wins and contrarily if Luna Bar had resulted from an avulsion, Arkansas prevails.

We have made an independent review of the record and find ourselves in agreement with the findings of fact purposed by the special master and we therefore affirm those findings, overrule Arkansas exceptions, confirm the Master’s report and in general except his recommendations for a decree.

In a opinion filed today, we discuss three particular aspects of the evidence namely these some ancient tree stumps, some testimony has to the nature of the soil on Luna Bar and testimony as to elevations.

The majority of the Court credit the witnesses for Mississippi and conclude that their testimony greatly buttresses the prima facie case, which Arkansas and Mississippi had made out.

The entry of a decree is directed accordingly.

I am authorized to say that Mr. Justice Douglas is filed a dissenting opinion with the Court.