Jump to Navigation
Jump to Content

United States v. Maine

Citation: 5 ELR 20232
No. No. 35 Orig., 420 U.S. 515/7 ERC 1753/(U.S., 03/17/1975)

The United States, rather than the Atlantic Coastal States, has sovereign ownership right over the continental shelf and its seabed minerals lying seaward of the three mile limit. Rejecting the defendant states' request that its prior decisions regarding the constitutional question of seabed ownership in the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocea be reexamined, the court instead reaffirms those precedents and rules that they are controlling in this case. The Special Master was correct in concluding that the coastal states, at the time they joined the United States, forfeited to the Federal government any sovereign powers over the seabed which they might have previously acquired from the English or Dutch Crowns. The court also notes that substantial commercial exploitation of offshore resources has been undertaken over the last twenty years, and that it would be inappropriate to disturb the underpinnings of the legislative and judicial regime within which such activity has taken place.

Counsel for Plaintiff
Robert H. Bork Solicitor General
Wallace H. Johnson Asst. Attorney General
Lawrence G. Wallace Deputy Solicitor General
Keith A. Jones Asst. Solicitor General
Bruce C. Rashkow
Ralph J. Gillis
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

Counsel for Defendants
Brice M. Clagett
Michael Boudin
Covington & Burling
888 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

W. Laird Stabler, Jr. Attorney General
Charles Brandt Asst. Attorney General
State Capitol
Dover, Del. 19901

Jon A. Lund Attorney General
Lee M. Schepps Asst. Attorney General
State House
Augusta, Me. 04330

Francis B. Burch Attorney General
Henry R. Lord Deputy Attorney General
One S. Calvert Street
Baltimore, Md. 21202

Robert H. Quinn Attorney General
Henry Herrmann Spec. Asst. Attorney General
State House
Boston, Mass. 02111

Warren B. Rudman Attorney General
David H. Souter Deputy Attorney General
State Capitol
Concord, N.H. 03301

William F. Hyland Attorney General
Elias Abelson Asst. Attorney General
State Capitol
Trenton, N.J. 08625

Louis J. Lefkowitz Attorney General
Joseph T. Hopkins Asst. Attorney General
State Capitol
Albany, N.Y. 12224

Richard J. Israel Attorney General
W. Slater Allen, Jr. Asst. Attorney General
State House
82 Smith Street
Providence, R.I. 02803

Andrew P. Miller Attorney General
Gerald L. Baliles Deputy Attorney General
State Capitol
Capitol Square
Richmond, Va. 23219

MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.