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New Jersey v. Delaware

New Jersey v. Delaware

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New Jersey v. Delaware, 552 U.S. 597 (2008), is a United States Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 case in which New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

 sued Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

, invoking the Supreme Court's original jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction
The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

 under (a), following Delaware's denial of oil company BP's petition to build a liquefied natural gas
Liquefied natural gas
Liquefied natural gas or LNG is natural gas that has been converted temporarily to liquid form for ease of storage or transport....

 pipeline and loading facility on the New Jersey side of the Delaware River
Delaware River
The Delaware River is a major river on the Atlantic coast of the United States.A Dutch expedition led by Henry Hudson in 1609 first mapped the river. The river was christened the South River in the New Netherland colony that followed, in contrast to the North River, as the Hudson River was then...

. Delaware denied BP's petition because it violated Delaware's Coastal Zone Act.http://www.dnrec.delaware.gov/Admin/CZA/Pages/CZAHome.aspx http://delcode.delaware.gov/title7/c070/index.shtml http://www.delawareaudubon.org/conservation/bp_positionstatement.html http://www.pgslegal.com/CM/FirmNews/dnrec-decides.asp BP then sought New Jersey's approval of the project. Delaware objected because the construction would require dredging of underwater land within Delaware's borders, which extend to the low-tide mark of the New Jersey shore. BP's proposal had not yet passed New Jersey's approval process when New Jersey and BP filed suit against Delaware.

Jurisdiction over rivers that form a border between states is usually determined by dividing the river down the middle between the states; this is not the case with the Delaware River. Delaware's curious border
The Twelve-Mile Circle
The Twelve-Mile Circle is an approximately circular arc which forms most of the boundary between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the State of Delaware in the United States...

 is the result of a grant by King Charles II in 1681, when the Delaware Colony was leased by William Penn from King Charles to become the three lower counties of Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

. The grant extended Delaware's northern border by a 12-mile circle centered in New Castle, Delaware
New Castle, Delaware
New Castle is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, six miles south of Wilmington, situated on the Delaware River. In 1900, 3,380 people lived here; in 1910, 3,351...

, extending across the Delaware River. If the circle were to be extended fully, it would have included a portion of New Jersey, but this was unacceptable because that land had already been granted. As a result, the 12-Mile-Circle terminated at the mean low water mark on New Jersey's shore. The post-1681 border gave present-day Delaware full ownership of the Delaware River along a stretch of the New Jersey border.

The case adjudicated by the Supreme Court is the third incarnation of this litigation. The dispute over the border reaches back to the nation's creation. A settlement was reached between the States at the beginning of the twentieth century because the costs of litigation had grown too high. The issue remained settled until New Jersey sued Delaware regarding the BP pipeline.

The Supreme Court appointed a special master to review. The Special Master was a practitioner in Maine who had experience in original jurisdiction land disputes. He oversaw production and heard oral arguments in the Third Circuit's court in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Special Master made a recommendation to the Supreme Court, and the Court held, in a 6-2 decision, that Delaware has jurisdiction over the subaqueous soil, even though BP proposed to build on New Jersey's half of the Delaware River. The only two dissenting Justices (Scalia
Antonin Scalia
Antonin Gregory Scalia is an American jurist who serves as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. As the longest-serving justice on the Court, Scalia is the Senior Associate Justice...

 and Alito
Samuel Alito
Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was nominated by President George W. Bush and has served on the court since January 31, 2006....

) are both from New Jersey. Justice Stephen Breyer
Stephen Breyer
Stephen Gerald Breyer is an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, and known for his pragmatic approach to constitutional law, Breyer is generally associated with the more liberal side of the Court....

recused himself from the case; according to his financial disclosure form, he owned between $15,001 and $50,000 in BP stock. http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1206960394626