Merrill v. State of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

September 14, 2011 – Ohio Supreme Court Protects Property Rights

The court held that the State of Ohio extends to the natural shoreline, which is “the line at which the water usually stands when free from disturbing causes.” The court reiterated its role as a protector of private property rights against state incursions and reminded the state that private property rights are expressly protected in the Ohio Constitution.

October 1, 2010 – The Ohio AG’s Land-Grab on the Lake

The 1851 Center filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of Ohio to stop Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray’s redefinition of property rights along Lake Erie.

The AG and several left-wing environmental interest groups now claim that because the State of Ohio owns the waters of Lake Erie, it also owns the beaches of Lake Erie. However, property owners along the lake have deeds that demonstrate their ownership, have paid taxes on the land for years, and were previously told (by the state) that they owned the land. The state is proceeding under the “Public Trust Doctrine,” which says it owns navigable waters and wild animals in Ohio. This is the first time Ohio’s politicians have attempted to extend the doctrine to dry land.

Both state and federal courts have supported the residents’ legal position. However, Attorney General Cordray has appealed the case to the Supreme Court of Ohio, despite being told by lower courts that he lacks standing to pursue the matter, since he has no client in the case.

“Ohioans have a constitutional right to acquire, possess, use and dispose of their private property in a way that does not harm others. Lake Erie property owners have owned this land since Ohio became a state. Only now, with dollar signs in its eyes, does the political class claim that it has always owned the property, and that lakefront owners must actually lease it back from the state,” 1851 Center Executive Director Maurice Thompson said in the court filing.


June 3, 2011 – Cleveland Plain Dealer: Ohio Supreme Court should rule soon on Lake Erie private v. public shoreline battle

September 23, 2010 – Maurice Thompson discusses the case on the Fred LeFebvre Show – WSPD AM 1370

September 20, 2010 1851 Center’s Amicus Brief

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