People in Michigan prize their access to the water that surrounds our pleasant peninsula, and in today's dispatch from the Department of Good News, we're pleased to report the U.S. Supreme Court will not review a lower court's ruling that a couple of well-to-do Hoosiers cannot bar the hoi polloi from the beach in front of their house, as long as they stay below the high-water mark.
For those of you keeping score at home, that's the point where the vegetation starts. So if you wanted to, you could put your beach towels smack in front of Don and Bobbie Gunderson's house in Long Beach, Ind., on the Lake Michigan lakefront. (Note: We have never seen their house, and Long Beach homeowners have seen a lot of erosion, so we're not sure how much beach we're talking about, especially in a high-water year like we're expecting.)
The Gundersons had argued that the ruling by Indiana’s high court, and a similar 2005 decision by the Michigan Supreme Court, upset a longstanding consensus in the Great Lakes states which held that private ownership extended to the water’s edge, wherever that edge was at any given moment.
The Gundersons had wanted the U.S. Supreme Court to definitively set the water’s edge as the boundary of lake-adjacent properties for all five Great Lakes — with no requirement to provide public access to the beach.
Property rights groups elsewhere had filed amicus, or “friend of the court,” briefs — including Save our Shoreline, a Michigan nonprofit comprised of Great Lakes property owners, and the Whalesback Preservation Fund LLC, which owns Lake Michigan land near Leland, led by the Cato Institute — urging the high court to rule in the Gundersons’ favor.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer praised the “good news for our Great Lakes and for people across the state.”
We're blowing up our floaties right now. Happy summering!