Gov. Whitman Lauds Ellis Island Decision
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, May 26) -- New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman said
Tuesday's Supreme Court decision granting most of Ellis Island to New Jersey
affirms her state's role in the "glorious history" of the United States.
"The important thing from my perspective is a formal recognition of New
Jersey's part in history," said Whitman. "We're part of a wonderful
[immigrant] tradition in this country, and we have our claim to it."
The court ruled Tuesday that New Jersey had territorial rights to about 22
acres of the historic island, mostly where it was enlarged with landfill. New
York will retain the original land, about five acres, which includes the main
hall through which millions of immigrants to the United States passed on arrival. Since the center's closing in the 1950s, the hall has been restored as a museum.
Most of the portion now deemed part of New Jersey is undeveloped, but
could be developed to provide New Jersey with tax revenues.
Whitman said she plans to appoint a special commission to analyze what to
do with the New Jersey's 22 acres of Ellis Island. The area includes a few
historic buildings, but is mostly more recent landfill.
The two states have disputed ownership of the small island in New York
harbor almost since the nation's founding.
The case was more about bragging rights than territory. The entire
island remains under U.S. government ownership as part of the national park system.
The case is New Jersey v. New York, No. 120, argued Jan. 12, 1998.