United States v. Louisiana

PETITIONER: United States
LOCATION: South Carolina Legislature

DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1988-1990)

CITATION: 485 US 88 (1988)
ARGUED: Jan 11, 1988
DECIDED: Mar 01, 1988

Facts of the case


Media for United States v. Louisiana

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 11, 1988 in United States v. Louisiana

William H. Rehnquist:

We'll hear argument next in No. 9 Original, United States against the State of Louisiana.

Mr. Bruce, you may proceed whenever you're ready.

Jim R. Bruce:

Mr. Chief Justice, may it please the Court.

This case concerns the location of Mississippi's coastline and the extent of its seaward boundaries.

During the course of my argument, I will be referring to charts which were included in the amicus brief of the State of Alaska, as well as figure number two included in the report of the Special Master.

Now, in the previous proceeding before this Court, we were all focusing on the question of whether Mississippi Sound constituted inland waters.

We presented our case and this Court agreed that it was inland waters and directed the Master to frame an appropriate decree.

And approaching that task, the Master was faced with a problem as he approached the western end of Mississippi Sound, the area where Mississippi Sound meets the waters of Chandeleur Sound South.

Obvious solution to the problem was that a corner had to be drawn somewhere closing both of these areas of inland waters.

The Master, however, felt constrained not to deal with an issue which appeared to be obvious in light of the Court's previous opinion that is necessary and obvious for establishing a coastline.

Now, the Solicitor General's argument is confusing as to whether or not he is suggesting remand or at this case, as at an end and that no further proceeding should be taken.

He says this is a case about Mississippi Sound only and that it should be reserved for a supplemental decree.

What we're asking the Court to do today is to remand this case with instructions to the Master so that he can deal with the coastline question in a logical manner and not feel foreclosed from recommending a proper decree in the case.

That's the Solicitor General's position too and we all agreed on remand and there's no issue for this Court to decide.

However, if the Government is arguing that the case is over, we contend that they are wrong.

Mississippi Sound or Chandeleur Sound of the South or inland waters or at least this Court (Voice Overlap).

William H. Rehnquist:

Mr. Bruce, I take it from the way you're pronouncing the word that Louisiana's pronounced it Chandeleur Sound even though the last syllable is spelled L-E-U-R.

Jim R. Bruce:

Yes, sir.

Both of these bodies of water have been characterized by this Court as inland waters.

In fact, in the last proceeding, the Court held that Mississippi Sound was in fact inland waters.

The two Sounds are at right angles to each other and are separated from one another by Cat Island, West Ship Island, and East Ship Island.

And I think it's very important to note that Ship Island in the past has been a single island.

Byron R. White:

(Inaudible) this is Mississippi Sound or not?

Jim R. Bruce:

No, Your Honor.

Basically, that was disposed of their last proceeding for this Court.

The question now is where the coastline should be located that it should taken to consideration the inland waters of Chandeleur Sound as well.

Byron R. White:

Why does that -- why does Chandeleur Sound come into the case?

Jim R. Bruce:

Well, because the Master in his report was attempting to delineate the coastline of Mississippi.

In order to delineate the coastline of Mississippi, you have to determine the limits of inland waters.

Byron R. White:

Well, why didn't they consider it?