Louisiana politics is like a spoiled child who keeps reaching his hand up to the cookie jar, always wanting more, never satisfied with the cookies falling out of his pockets and dropping from his cradling arms.

And who can blame him when there's never anybody around to tell him no.

Well, federal Magistrate James D. Kirk just slapped the boy's hand, but he didn't use his own hand. Instead, he employed something much larger, heavier and more powerful — a big book. A law book, in fact.

Kirk used the actual law — not to mention reason and common sense — to make a recommendation in a case that could have far-reaching implications for anglers who wish to access all navigable waters and the riparian landowners who'd like to stop them.

Law, reason and common sense. Now, that's a novel concept in Louisiana.

Kirk heard arguments in a case involving the arrests of five men who were busted for trespassing on the Mississippi River, of all places.

Private interests already control virtually every duck pond, canal and trenasse in the state, but like the kid reaching for another cookie, they apparently wanted the largest river in North America as well.

The five men had made it their habit to fish along the edge of the swollen Mississippi River in East Carroll Parish, and that drew the ire of a land-holding company named Walker Lands, whose terra firma just so happened to be underneath the turbid water.

So representatives of the company called their good friend, Sheriff Mark Shumate, and had the scoundrels arrested.

Federal law is clear that the public has an inalienable right to access all rivers and navigable waters extending to the high-water mark. The Mississippi was clearly a river, and it was clearly navigable.

But that fact was irrelevant to Walker Lands, Shumate and a state court. The court ruled that — law be damned — the arrests were warranted.

On the advice of their attorney, Paul Hurd, the men took the case to federal court, where Louisiana's power brokers hold considerably less sway with judges.

Kirk heard the arguments, and immediately saw the absurdity of the claims of the landowners. He publicly rebuked and chastised Shumate for making the arrests.

"Because the arrests were without probable cause to believe an offense had been committed, the sheriff violated the Fourth Amendment rights of the plaintiffs, and is answerable to them for any damages they have sustained," Kirk wrote.

Kirk further said it's preposterous to expect boaters on navigable waters to know exactly when and where the land below them transfers from public to private ownership.

Could that have implications for the marshes? We certainly hope so.

Since Kirk is a magistrate, his opinion doesn't carry the weight of law; it is merely a recommendation made to a judge for a ruling.

In this instance, the judge who will decide the case is U.S. District Judge Robert G. James, but given Kirk's strongly worded opinion, James will have to do some legal gymnastics to rule against the five men and, essentially, the public.

We don't expect that to happen; we expect James to use the same law book to once again crush the hand of the greedy child.