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New Jersey v. Delaware

ELR Citation: 38 ELR 20080
Nos. No. 134, (U.S., 03/31/2008)

The U.S. Supreme Court held that Article VII of the 1905 Compact between New Jersey and Delaware provides that each state maintains its "riparian jurisdiction" over the Delaware River, a term not synonymous with "exclusive jurisdiction"; thus, Delaware has the authority to prevent the construction of a liquefied natural gas unloading terminal projected to extend beyond New Jersey's shore some 2,000 feet into Delaware territory. The riparian right to build wharfs for access to navigable waters is limited by a state's power to regulate for the protection of the public. When such a development project extends into another state's territory, there is overlapping authority to regulate riparian structures. And while Delaware may not impede ordinary and usual exercises of the right of riparian owners to wharf out from New Jersey's shore, it may, under its Coastal Zone Act, prevent the heavy industrial use at issue here. Ginsburg, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Souter, and Thomas, JJ., joined, and in which Stevens, J., joined as to Paragraphs 1(c), 2, 3, and 4 of the opinion. Stevens, J. filed an opinion concurring in part and dissenting in part. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Alito, J., joined. Breyer, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.