Supreme Court ruling viewed as victory for both sides
Rarely does the Ohio Supreme Court please both sides in a conflict.
Yet, on Wednesday, the reaction proved as unanimous as the 7-0 court ruling in what had been a most contentious argument over the public trust and private property rights along the shore of Lake Erie.
The Ohio Lakefront Group representing property owners called the decision a “big win.” The Ohio Environmental Council claimed “a huge, huge victory.”
How did the court pull off the feat, Justice Terrence O’Donnell writing the opinion?
For starters, the ruling won applause from environmental groups by repairing an egregious decision of the 11th District Court of Appeals. The lower court looked at the question of where private property rights end and the public trust begins. … The appeals court departed from long precedent, joining the view that the boundary changes with the water level of the lake from moment to moment. …
To its credit, the Supreme Court essentially returned to precedent, pointing to laws and rulings dating to the 19th century. It located the boundary at the “natural shoreline,” or “where the water usually stands free from disturbing causes.” …
What cheered property owners was the reaffirmation of individual property rights. O’Donnell wrote: “This court has a history of protecting property rights, and our decision today continues that long-standing precedent.” …
Richard Cordray, then attorney general, pressed the appeal, after the Department of Natural Resources passed. Good thing that he did. The Supreme Court seized the opportunity to reaffirm middle ground, emphasizing the importance of individuals property rights yet returning to what Ohioans share, must protect and deserve to enjoy, Lake Erie and its shoreline.
Akron Beacon Journal