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U.S. Supreme Court

Greenleaf Johnson Lumber Co. v. Garrison, 237 U.S. 251 (1915)

Greenleaf Johnson Lumber Co. v. Garrison

No. 678

Argued February 24, 25, 1915

Decided April 12, 1915

237 U.S. 251


The power of the sovereign state or nation is perpetual, not exhausted by one exercise, and all privileges granted in public waters are subject to that power, the exercise of which is not a taking of private property for public use, but the lawful exercise of a governmental power for the common good. West Chicago R. Co. v. Chicago, 201 U. S. 506.

When one acting under state authority erects anything in navigable waters, he does so with full knowledge of the paramount authority of Congress to regulate commerce among the states and subject to the exercise of such authority at some future time by Congress. Union Bridge Co. v. United States, 204 U. S. 364.

The power of the states over navigable waters is subordinate to that of Congress, and the state can grant no right to the soil of the bed of navigable waters which is not subject to federal regulation. Philadelphia Co. v. Stimson, 223 U. S. 605; United States v. Chandler-Dunbar Co., 229 U. S. 269.

The power of Congress extends to the whole expanse of a navigable stream, and is not dependent upon the depth or shallowness of the water.

The United States is not liable under the Fifth Amendment to compensate the owner of a wharf erected in navigable waters for the removal of that part of the structure outside of the new lines properly established by federal authority, although the wharf was originally erected within the harbor lines then duly established by both the state and federal authorities.

In this case, the action of the Secretary of War in establishing new harbor lines within those previously established was not so wanton and arbitrary as to subject it to judicial review, if such action were subject to review.

The mooring of vessels is as necessary as is their movement, and can equally be made the basis for increasing the navigability of a river whether for trading vessels or war vessels. chanrobles.com-red

Page 237 U. S. 252

The judgment of Congress as to whether a construction in or over a river is or is not an obstacle and hindrance to navigation is an exercise of legislative power in respect to a matter wholly within its control, and is conclusive. United states v. Chandler-Dunbar Co., 229 U. S. 269.

208 F.1d 22 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the right of the owners of a wharf erected under state authority in navigable waters of the United States to compensation on the taking thereof by the United States, are stated in the opinion. chanrobles.com-red

Page 237 U. S. 254


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