|New Jersey v. New York|
|Argued January 12, 1998|
Decided May 26, 1998
|Full case name||State of New Jersey v. State of New York|
|Citations||523 U.S. 767 (more)|
|New Jersey has sovereign authority over the filled land added to the original Island. New Jersey's exception to that portion of the Special Master's report concerning the Court's authority to adjust the original boundary line between the two States is sustained. The other exceptions of New Jersey and New York are overruled.|
|Majority||Souter, joined by Rehnquist, O'Connor, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer|
|Concurrence||Breyer, joined by Ginsburg|
|Dissent||Scalia, joined by Thomas|
|1834 Compact between New York and New Jersey|
The circumstances which led to an exclave of New York being located within New Jersey began in the colonial era, after the British takeover of New Netherland in 1664. An unusual clause in the colonial land grant outlined the territory that the proprietors of New Jersey would receive as being "westward of Long Island, and Manhitas Island and bounded on the east part by the main sea, and part by Hudson's river", rather than at the river's midpoint, as was common in other colonial charters.
Attempts were made as early as 1804 to resolve the status of the state line. The City of New York claimed the right to regulate trade on all the waters. This was contested in Gibbons v. Ogden, which decided that the regulation of interstate commerce fell under the authority of the federal government, thus influencing competition in the newly developing steam ferry service in New York Harbor. In 1830, New Jersey planned to bring suit to clarify the border, but the case was never heard. The matter was resolved with a compact between the states, ratified by U.S. Congress in 1834, which set the boundary line between them as the middle of the Hudson River and New York Harbor, but granted all the islands in the channel to New York. This was later confirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in other cases which also expounded on the compact.
The federal government began expanding the island by land reclamation in the late 19th century to accommodate its immigration station, and the expansions continued in stages until 1934. New Jersey contended that the artificial portions of the island were part of New Jersey, since they were outside New York's border. Jurisdictional disputes reemerged in the 1980s with the renovation of Ellis Island, and then again in the 1990s with the proposed redevelopment of the south side. New Jersey sued in 1997. Since the land added by the federal government was not expressly granted to New York by the interstate compact, and was placed in water that had been expressly granted to New Jersey, the majority ruled that this "new" land (decades old by this time) must belong to New Jersey. The minority dissent used historical reasons and "common-sense inference" as their basis for supporting New York's claim.
According to the court decision, all land originally given to New York by the compact (the original, natural Ellis Island) remains under the jurisdiction of New York, but any and all land reclaimed from the waters after that point is under the jurisdiction of New Jersey. The island covers a land area of 27.5 acres (11.1 ha).
The two states jointly negotiated a post-trial settlement to decide exactly where and how to draw the lines in accordance with the Supreme Court decision. The 2.74-acre (1.11 ha) original island and other areas negotiated in that post-trial settlement, totaling 3.3 acres (1.3 ha), to this day remains part of New York that is a landlocked enclave within New Jersey. The case is possibly the first to use GIS in determining a Supreme Court decision.
While the court decision has changed the state territorial sovereignty of most parts of the island, the actual current landowner (holder of the title of Ellis Island) is the federal government. Very few activities on the island were directly affected by the transfer of sovereignty, but the decision did affect some instances of sales taxes.
The New York portion of Ellis Island is landlocked, enclaved within New Jersey's territory.Cite journal requires