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MARTIN VS. WADDELL was a court case that helped to establish in the United States the lawful ownership of environmental resources, including living things. Martin held lands alongside the River Raritan in New Jersey and he claimed ownership of these lands back to a grant made by King Charles II during the second half of the 17th century. He brought a court case with a view to developing an oyster industry based on those that were present in the river, and he desired to have exclusive use of them and their economic exploitation.

The presiding judge, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Taney, ruled that this claim was not valid because King Charles II's ability to make such a grant should have been curtailed by the Magna ...

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