United States v. Louisiana

485 U. S. 88

March 1, 1988

First, a word about the case name. The official citation is “United States v. Louisiana,” but the case does not involve Louisiana at all. United States Reports uses the more colloquial “Alabama and Mississippi Boundary Case,” but Alabama is likewise not involved at all. Well over a decade before, the federal government had began fighting with all three states about their territorial reach into the Gulf of Mexico, but by 1988 only Mississippi was still fighting. At issue was an area of water known as the Chandeleur Sound. The Special Master in charge of arbitrating the territorial disputes claimed that dealing with the Chandeleur area was beyond the scope of his charge.

Justice Blackmun wrote for a unanimous Court, and agreed with the Special Master (Marshall and Kennedy did not participate). Blackmun observed that Mississippi and the United States were substantially in accord about the area which was within the Special Master’s purview. He thus directed that an ultimate settlement be finally made for the areas within that purview, and allowed that the parties could come back later and institute new action to deal with the Chandeleur Sound dispute.

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