Page images

Sec. 3. There is expected from the operation of the first section of this Act,

(a) all lands and resources therein or improvements thereon which have been lawfully acquired by the United States from any State or from any person in whom title had vested under the decisions of the courts of such State, or their respective grantees, or successors in interest, by cession, grant, quitclaim, or condemnation, or from any other owner or owners thereof by conveyance or by condemnation, provided such owner or owners had lawfully acquired the right, title, or interest of any such State; and

(b) such lands beneath navigable waters within the boundaries of the respective States and such interests therein as the United States is lawfully entitled to under the law as established by the decisions of the courts of the State in which the land is situated, or which are held by the United States in trust for the benefit of any tribe, band, or group of Indians or for individual Indians. Sec. 4. (a) The United States retains all its powers of regulation and control of said lands and navigable waters for the purposes of commerce, navigation, national defense, and international affairs except those powers and rights specifically recognized, confirmed, established, and vested in the respective States and others by the first section of this Act.

(b) The United States shall have the right and power, when necessary for national defense, to exercise the preference right to purchase the said natural resources or to acquire and use any portion of said lands by proceeding in accordance with the due process of law and paying just compensation.

Sec. 5. Nothing in this Act shall be deemed to affect the determination by legislation or judicial decree of any issues between the United States and the respective States relating to the ownership or control of that portion of the subsoil and sea bed of the Continental shelf lying seaward and outside of the area of lands beneath navigable waters, described in section 2 hereof.

(The other bills referred to are on file with the Senate and House Committees on the Judiciary.)

Senator MOORE. In general, these bills all seek to accomplish the same objective, that is, quitclaim to and confirm in the States title to and ownership of the lands beneath navigable waters within the boundaries of the States and all lands permanently or periodically covered by tidal waters from the line of mean high tide seaward à distance of three geographical miles, or to the boundary line of each State where such boundary extends seaward beyond 3 miles, including all lands formerly beneath navigable waters which have been filled or reclaimed.

During the Seventh-ninth Congress, legislation designed to accomplish these objectives was enacted by the House and Senate, and later vetoed by the President. It was pointed out by the President in the veto message that at the time of the passage and veto of the legislation, there was pending in the Supreme Court of the United States an action against the State of California to determine the question of title as between the Federal and State governments, and that, in his view, it was appropriate to await the decision of the Supreme Court because it might be that no legislation would be needed. On June 23, 1947, the Supreme Court rendered its opinion, in which it was held that the State of California did not have title to the lands beneath the submerged tidelands lying off the coast of California and within the established boundaries of the State, and further holding that the Federal Government had paramount rights and dominion over such tidelands.

Later, the Supreme Court refused the application of the Department of Justice to enter a decree establishing Federal proprietary rights

. The decision of the Supreme Court did not attempt to describe or identify the boundary lines of the area affected by the decision, except by reference generally to submerged tidelands between the line

[ocr errors]

of mean low tide and oceanward for a distance of 3 miles, and no de-scription or identification by metes and bounds of the lands involved appears in the petition or answers or other pleadings in the suit.

It is clear, however, that the Government asserted no claim in that suit to lands under the waters of bays, harbors, rivers, or other inland waters, but the dividing line between what constitutes the areas affected by the Supreme Court action and such inland waters was left undetermined. The decision of the Court, however, does suggest that the matter is a proper field for legislation.

In view of the decision of the Supreme Court, it was felt by the authors of Senate Joint Resolution 14 that the bill was not broad enough in its terms or legal effect to accomplish the objectives intended or to meet the other broad and far-reaching implications of the Supreme Court opinion.

For these reasons S. 1988 was introduced in the nature of a substitute for Senate Joint Resolution 14, and similar bills were introduced in the House.

The committee is indeed honored by the many State governors who have expressed their desire to be heard in person or through personal representatives. We are likewise honored and pleased to hear from the many State attorneys general and other State officials who have asked to present their views in person for the record.

Some of the governors are here today. The committee understands that you are busy men, and we will, of course, arrange our program throughout these hearings to hear any of the governors at such time as is convenient to them.

I might add that the same rule applies to attorneys general and other public officials.

The Senate committee is further honored by the presence of the members of House Judiciary Subcommittee No. 1 and other Members of the House and Senate who are interested in this matter.

This is a joint hearing, and I hope all members of the House committee will feel free to participate in these hearings, if they desire.

Mr. Maurice W. Covert, a member of the professional staff of the Judiciary Committee, some months ago was assigned to this matter by Senator Wiley, chairman of the full committee. He has devoted several months of his time to the study of the questions involved and the issues that will necessarily be raised in these hearings.

Several weeks ago, I also asked my administrative assistant, Mr. Guy Woodward, who has been a practicing attorney for many years, to study the issues presented by this legislation, and I am, therefore, with the permission of the other members of the committee, requesting these gentlemen to act as attorneys for the committee to assist in conducting these hearings if and when they feel that any points at issue are not being clearly developed for the record.

Senator Wiley, as chairman of the committee, has participated in this legislation during the Seventy-ninth Congress, and I would like now if he would care to, that he make a statement with reference to this.


ATOR FROM THE STATE OF WISCONSIN Senator WILEY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I am grateful for this opportunity to appear before you this morning at the opening of these very important hearings on the bills introduced by my colleagues. As you know, this legislation is designed to transfer to and to recognize as existing in the States and grantees and successors in interest, all Federal "paramount rights” in lands beneath tidelands and navigable waters within the boundaries thereof, while reserving to the United States all interests claimed in the continental shelf beyond these limits.

Many of my colleagues, for whose judgment I have the greatest respect, view with a great amount of alarm the implications of the decision in the California case. I have always strongly believed in the establishment and maintenance of constitutional processes and the support and promotion of constitutional government.

I fully realize the possible implications of the decision in the California case. I have given a great amount of study to this matter and shall follow with interest the hearings now being conducted.

It is not my purpose in appearing this morning to submit any final conclusions on this legislation. I know that in the course of your earnest deliberations, you are going to weigh very carefully and objectively the finest judgment you can secure from all of the interested parties involved in this question.

I would not, therefore, presume at this stage to offer any final statement as to my personal convictions on this matter, particularly following the order and decree of the United States Supreme Court of whose import you are so well aware. I shall maintain an open mind until the views of the people who will appear at these hearings are: fully received and considered.

My threefold responsibility, as I see it, as chairman of this committee and ex officio member of the subcommittee, is to endeavor to discharge

(a) As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, it will be my purpose to work with my colleagues on the subcommittee and in the full committee in the course of these hearings and following them in order to prepare legislation which will be most satisfactory in the public interest--for the national welfare.

(6) As senior Senator from Wisconsin, I naturally have a very real interest, particularly in phases of this problem affecting my own State. It is my humble feeling and faith, that the eventual solution which we will work out for this national problem will be consistent with the needs and aspirations of the State of Wisconsin, as they will be submitted to you orally and in writing by the distinguished public officials and private citizens of my State.

(c) As a member of the legislative branch of Government, it will be

my purpose, as I know it will be that of my colleagues, to work out a solution to this problem in full accordance with both the rights of and limitations on the Congress of the United States under our Constitution, insofar as those rights and limitations relate to a legislative enactment, as distinguished from a constitutional amendment, such as we are considering.

I will not attempt to submit a history of this resolution, but as a general background to my own present and previous position and action in this matter, I would like at this point to introduce into the record the text of a letter which I wrote to the Honorable Oscar Rennebohm, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, on December 4, 1947.

I ask at this point that the letter he wrote me dated November 12, and my reply to that letter, be read into the record. [Reading :) Hon. ALEXANDER WILEY,

Senate Office Building, Washington, D. C. DEAR SENATOR: For several years the Council of State Governments, the Governors' Conference, and the National Association of Attorneys General have presented a solid front against Federal claims to long-disputed State ownership of land beneath navigable waters within their respective boundaries.

In the famous California case the court agreed that the final decision in this important matter rests with the Federal Congress, and the so-called tidewater lands legislation will again be considered at the next regular session,

While Wisconsin is not as vitally concerned with this legislation as some of the other States, like California and Texas, we are concerned with the question of encroachment of the Federal Government on State's rights.

Governor Jester, of Texas, has requested that I determine if possible within the next few weeks the attitude of Wisconsin's Representatives in Congress toward the tidewater lands legislation. As a courtesy to him I would like to comply with his request. If you care to, accordingly, I would appreciate it if you would let me know whether you plan to support or not support this legislation when it comes before you for action. Thank you very much for your cooperation in this regard. Sincerely,


DECEMBER 4, 1947. Hon. Oscar RENNEBOHM,

Governor, State of Wisconsin, Madison, Wis. DEAR GOVERNOR RENNEBOHM: On November 12 you wrote me requesting a statement of my attitude "toward the tidewater lands legislation."

At the outset, I want to apologize for my delay in answering. It so happened that, as you undoubtedly know, tidelands legislation is a subject which comes from the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which I am chairman, and early this summer a member of my committee staff had been assigned to secure pertinent data and information.

I wanted to include with my statement of views the latest report on the attitude of the Department of Justice and, unfortunately, when your letter arrived the member of my staff who handled this subject had returned to his native State because of a death in his family.

On the return of this staff member today, I immediately consulted with him so that I can now include his report on the tentative views of the Justice Department in my statement to you.

At the outset, let me recall to you that on April 22, 1946, the Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Senate met in executive session to consider House Joint Resolution 225, to quiet the title to lands beneath tidewaters and lands beneath navigable waters. On a motion to report the resolution favorably to the Senate I was recorded as approving. You will recall further that early in February our committee had conducted extensive hearings on Senate Joint Resolution 48 and House Joint Resolution 225. As a member of the committee, I followed these hearings very closely and the vote on April 26, 1946, expressed my conclusions. The order and decree of the Supreme Court of the United States in the October term has, however, as you know, stated, in part, as follows:

"The United States of America is now, and has been at all times pertinent hereto, possessed of paramount rights in, and full dominion and power over, the lands, minerals, and other things underlying the Pacific Ocean lying seaward The State of California has no title thereto or property interest therein."

In view of the Supreme Court decision my own views are necessarily somewhat
altered. On the basis of such information as I have at the present time, my
opinion is that legislation should be passed which will, in effect, permit the
States to have surface rights in all lands extending from low-tide outward to
the recognized State boundary. "Surface rights," as used in the preceding sen-
tence, would necessarily include sufficient depth under the surface for the placing
of foundations, etc.

The member of my staff who has been conferring with the Department of Jus-
tice advises me that, apparently, it is their tentative view that the Federal juris-
diction and sovereignty over all artificially made lands and physical equipment
and installation on such lands or on the tidelands, such as docks, loading termi-
nals, harbor installations, sea walls, jetties, causeways, and all police jurisdiction
including the right of the State to grant licenses for the construction and main-
tenance of docking and loading facilities, harbor installations, and fishing privi-
leges, should be released to the States by appropriate legislation, but that all oil,
gas, and other minerals in and under the submerged tidelands should be retained
by the Federal Government with full and paramount rights of ingress and egress
for exploration and development purposes.
Apparently, the Department of Justice concurs tentatively with my conclusions.

Since tidelands legislation is currently pending before this committee and since
Dew tidelands legislation will be pending before this committee, I am reluctant
to express any final conclusion, though the foregoing expresses my thinking on the
subject to date.

I might add, either by amendment to pending proposals or by a new bill, I will
probably advance the ideas outlined above in legislative form.

At this point, I should like to read the text of several brief telegrams
which I have received from present and former public officials of my
State and several private citizens.

Chairman Judiciary Committee, United States Senate:
Milwaukee has tremendous stake in submerged-lands controversy with millions
of dollars of public moneys invested in projects on lands reclaimed from lake under
authority of State grants including harbor facilities, water filtration plant, sewage
plant, lake shore parks and drives. Urge that you personally conduct hearings
on S. 1988 with view to securing full protection vital interests Milwaukee and
Wisconsin in this legislation. Essential that State ownership of submerged
lands be clarified and confirmed to prevent cloud on present and future water-
front improvements.

John Bohn, Mayor, City of Miluuukee.


Chairman, Judiciary Committee, United States Senate:
The Great Lakes States and port cities vitally concerned with final determina-
tion of submerged lands controversy. It is essential that title of States and their
grantees to submerged lands be confirmed by congressional action. Present con-
troversy clouds title to waterfront developments and discourages future enter-
prise. Hope you personally can preside over hearings on S. 1988 to assure square
deal for Great Lakes States and port cities. This association supports S. 1988.

President, Great Lakes Harbors Association.

United States Senator, Wisconsin,

Washington, D. C.:
Re S. 1988 Wisconsin definitely opposes any amendment to S. 1988 that would
jeopardize its right to full title I repeat, full tile-to the beds of navigable
streams and lakes. We disagree with your position as outlined in your letter to
Governor Rennebohm on December 13, 1947. Port authorities, the Governor's
office, and those interviewed by me are solidly behind S. 1988 as is. Action by

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »