Court refuses to interfere with Lake Michigan beach access decision


PORTER, Ind. — A federal appeals court has refused to overturn an Indiana Supreme Court ruling, later codified into Indiana law, that said the shoreline of Lake Michigan is — and always has been — the state property for public use.

In Wednesday’s 3-0 decision, the 7th United States Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said the three lakeside property owners in the town of Porter who claim their holdings include a private beach do not have no standing to challenge the Indiana High Court’s decision and status in federal court, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

Circuit Judge Diane Wood, writing for the federal appeals court, said the owners had failed to establish that their beach property had been ‘taken’ by the state because the Upper Court in 2018 had clarified that they had never owned a private beach on Lake Michigan.

This decision concluded that Indiana owns—and has owned since statehood in 1816—the lands below Lake Michigan and the adjacent shoreline up to the ordinary high water mark.

The Indiana Legislature has approved a 2020 law stemming from the court’s decision that upheld the public’s right to use the lakeshore for walking, fishing, boating, swimming and swimming. other recreational purposes.

This law also specified that private property owners adjacent to Lake Michigan were not entitled to exclusive use of the beach or water.

Wood wrote that even though the Porter County plaintiffs owned all of the shoreline near their homes, the state officials they sued — including the governor and attorney general — don’t have the authority to transmit. the title deed of the Supreme Court and the General Assembly of the State. .


She also noted that a federal appeals court does not have the power to overrule a state supreme court.

Chris Kieser, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, the California-based property rights law firm representing the plaintiffs, did not say whether they plan to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the lawsuit. decision.

“We are disappointed with the result and are considering our next steps with our customers,” Kieser said.


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