MCCREADY V. VIRGINIA, 94 U. S. 391 (1876)

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U.S. Supreme Court

McCready v. Virginia, 94 U.S. 391 (1876)

McCready v. Virginia

94 U.S. 391


1. Subject to the paramount right of navigation, the regulation of which in relation to foreign and interstate commerce has been granted to the United States, each state owns the beds of all tidewaters within its jurisdiction, and may appropriate them, to be used by its citizens as a common for taking and cultivating fish, if navigation be not thereby obstructed.

2. The right which the citizens of the state thus acquire is a property right, and not a mere privilege or immunity of citizenship.

3. The second section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which declares that "the citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several states," does not vest the citizens of one state with any interest in the common property of the citizens of another state.

4. A law of Virginia by which only such persons as are not citizens of that state are prohibited from planting oysters in the soil covered by her tidewaters is neither a regulation of commerce nor a violation of any privilege or immunity of interstate citizenship.

McCready, a citizen of Maryland, was indicted, convicted, and fined $500, in the Circuit Court of Gloucester County, Va., for planting oysters in Ware River, a stream in which the tide

Page 94 U. S. 392

ebbs and flows, in violation of sec. 22 of the Act of the Assembly of Virginia approved April 18, 1874, c. 214, p. 243, Sess.Acts 1874. That section is as follows:

"If any person other than a citizen of this state shall take or catch oysters or any shellfish in any manner, or plant oysters in the waters thereof or in the Rivers Potomac or Pocomoke, he shall forfeit $500, and the vessel, tackle, and appurtenances."

The supreme court of appeals of the state affirmed the judgment below, whereupon the defendant sued out this writ of error.

Page 94 U. S. 394

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