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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. California, 436 U.S. 32 (1978)

United States v. California

No. 5, Orig.

Argued February 27, 1978

Decided May 15, 1978

436 U.S. 32


California, and not the United States, has dominion over the submerged lands and waters within the one-mile belts surrounding Santa Barbara and Anacapa Islands within the Channel Islands National Monument. When, by Presidential Proclamation in 1949, the Monument was enlarged to encompass areas within one nautical mile of the shorelines of these islands, the submerged lands and waters within the one-mile belts were under federal dominion as a result of this Court's decision two years earlier in United States v. California, 332 U. S. 19. But, assuming that the Proclamation intended to reserve such submerged lands and waters, dominion over them was subsequently transferred to California by the Submerged Lands Act, whose very purpose was to undo that decision. The § 5(a) "claim of right" exemption from the Act's broad grant, relied on by the Government, clearly does not apply to claims based on the 1947 California decision. The reservation for a national monument made by the 1949 Proclamation could not enhance the Government's claim to the submerged lands and waters in dispute, since the statutory authority under which such monuments are created merely authorizes land to be shifted from one federal use to another. Pp. 436 U. S. 36-41.

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, POWELL, REHNQUIST, and STEVENS, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BURGER, C.J.,and BLACKMUN, J., joined, post, p. 436 U. S. 42. MARSHALL, J., took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.

Page 436 U. S. 33

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