The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954 Page: 400
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
tional campaigns. It was not merely a question of whether the
states or the federal government collected the oil royalties. The
issue of ownership and control of the submerged soils of the
marginal seas paramounted the division of powers between the
states and nation under the American federal system.
Finally the judiciary spoke in terms of confusion rather than
clarity. A veritable Pandora's box of doubts and uncertainties
was opened with the majority opinion of the United States
Supreme Court in the California case. By-passing the customary
and traditional arguments of state ownership under a hundred
and fifty years of precedent and practice, the court announced
its doctrine of paramount rights inherent in a national entity by
reason of the United States being a member of the family of
Here in one far-reaching judicial sweep age-old concepts were
completely altered. Nor was this all. The majority opinion openly
anticipated much litigation would follow in the determination of
rights and titles.
Despite the devastating effect, chaos was averted by a quick
working truce behind the lines arranged between federal and
state officers and agencies. This arrangement assured the con-
tinued production of oil without interruption, even though the
cash proceeds were held in escrow.
No such good results followed the Louisiana and Texas deci-
sions. Doubt and conflict have characterized every subsequent act
of the federal agencies. The implementation of the Supreme
Court's action has failed because of indecision. The practical
effect of such a policy or lack of policy has been to bring drilling
operations in the Gulf of Mexico almost to a complete standstill.
Despite his objectivity the author makes no effort to conceal
his own views. The California suit, he intimates, was brought
first to establish precedent for the ruling in the far more difficult
Texas case. The exceptional soundness of Texas' position by reason
of treaty provision he readily recognizes. Throughout he insists
that Congressional quitclaim to the states is not only desirable
but extremely likely. Such is now an accomplished fact but not
when his book went to press. He further insisted that quitclaim-
ing, while helpful, would not close the controversy. His accuracy
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 57, July 1953 - April, 1954, periodical, 1954; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101152/m1/481/: accessed April 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.