"The U.S. Supreme Court hears a major property rights case Wednesday, a case from Florida that pits the state's need to prevent beach erosion against the rights of property owners to keep ownership of the land at the water's edge.
At issue in the case is the demarcation of what is private and what is public land at the shoreline. And the facts in the dispute are almost as amorphous as the line of dry beach in the sway of the tides.
Florida has more than 2,000 miles of ocean shoreline, including some 820 miles of sandy beach -- beach that has been consistently eroding. So much so that for the past four decades, the state and local governments have poured millions of dollars into beach restoration projects that pump sand into eroded areas to create a kind of sand buffer to protect the beach from storm damage and further erosion. "