Supreme Court upholds Delaware border claim

The Supreme Court today upheld Delaware’s objection to the construction of a Liquid Natural Gas tanker loading pier in New Jersey extending into the Delaware River.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito dissented. Both are sons of New Jersey; both were born in Trenton, although Justice Scalia moved with his family to New York City when he was young.

The assertion provoked a barbed response from Scalia, questioning how the court would define a wharf of “extraordinary character.” “What in the world does it mean? Would a pink wharf, or a zig-zagged wharf qualify?” he asks in his dissent.

Scalia suggested that environmental concerns of some justices about the LNG project may have influenced the outcome. “Our environmentally sensitive court concedes that if New Jersey had approved a wharf of equivalent dimensions, to accommodate tankers of equivalent size, carrying tofu and bean sprouts, Delaware could not have interfered,” Scalia writes.


Although both sides make good points, I’m inclined to agree with the court in accepting the recommendation of the special master.

Sounds like a claim of NIMBY…not in my backyard!

Another interesting facet to this case relates to the fact that this dispute between two states is an example of the court exercising original jurisdiction - rather than ruling on appeals from lower courts.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer did not participate because he owns BP stock. His absence posed the possibility of a 4-4 tie, a prospect that in turn raised a question that experts in Supreme Court procedure have been unable to answer. A tie vote at the Supreme Court automatically affirms the judgment of the lower court, but in an “original” case, there is no lower court judgment. So what effect would a tie have? An answer proved unnecessary.

This is still going on? An LNG tanker debate has been going on since the early 70’s when I was growing up there!!!

I would guess that the low energy prices of the 80s and 90s kept the plan from being cost-effective until prices rose again in recent years.

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