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April 7, 1902



Fuller, Harlan, Brewer, Brown, Shiras, Jr., White, Peckham, McKenna; Mr. Justice Gray did not hear the argument or take part in the decision of this case.

Author: Fuller

[ 185 U.S. Page 139]

 MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The original jurisdiction of this court over "controversies between two or more States" was declared by the judiciary act of 1789 to be exclusive, as in its nature it necessarily must be.

Reference to the language of the Constitution providing for

[ 185 U.S. Page 140]

     its exercise, to its historical origin, to the decisions of this court in which the subject has received consideration, which was made at length in Missouri v. Illinois, 180 U.S. 208, demonstrates the comprehensiveness, the importance and the gravity of this grant of power, and the sagacious foresight of those by whom it was framed. By the first clause of section 10 of article I of the Constitution it was provided that "No State shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation;" and by the third clause that "No State shall, without the consent of Congress, . . . keep troops, or ships of war in time of peace, enter into any agreement or compact with another State, or with a foreign power, or engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay."

Treaties, alliances and confederations were thus wholly prohibited, and Judge Tucker in his Appendix to Blackstone (vol. 1, p. 310) found the distinction between them and "agreements or compacts" mentioned in the third clause, in the fact that the former related "ordinarily to subjects of great national magnitude and importance, and are often perpetual, or made for a considerable period of time," but agreements or compacts concerned "transitory or local affairs, or such as cannot possibly affect any other interest but that of the parties." But Mr. Justice Story thought this an unsatisfactory exposition, and that the language of the first clause might be more plausibly interpreted "to apply to treaties of a political character, such as treaties of alliance for purposes of peace and war; and treaties of confederation, in which the parties are leagued for mutual government, political cooperation, and the exercise of political sovereignty; and treaties of cession of sovereignty, or conferring internal political jurisdiction, or external political dependence, or general commercial privileges;" while compacts and agreements might be very properly applied "to such as regarded what might be deemed mere private rights of sovereignty; such as questions of boundaries; interests in land situate in the territory of each other; and other internal regulations for the mutual comfort and convenience of States bordering on each other." 2 Story, Const. ยงยง 1402, 1403; Louisiana v. Texas, 176 U.S. 1.

Undoubtedly as remarked by Mr. Justice Bradley in Hans

[ 185 U.S. Page 141]

     v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1, 15, the Constitution made some things justiciable, "which were not known as such at the common law; such, for example, as controversies between States as to boundary lines, and other questions admitting of judicial solution." And as the remedies resorted to by independent States for the determination of controversies raised by collision between them were withdrawn from the States by the Constitution, a wide range of matters, susceptible of adjustment, and not purely political in their nature, was made justiciable by that instrument.

In Missouri v. Illinois and The Sanitary District of Chicago, 180 U.S. 208, it was alleged that an artificial channel or drain constructed by the sanitary district for purposes of sewerage under authority derived from the State of Illinois, created a continuing nuisance dangerous to the health of the people of the State of Missouri, and the bill charged that the acts of defendants, if not restrained, would result in poisoning the water supply of the inhabitants of Missouri, and in injuriously affecting that portion of the bed of the Mississippi River lying within its territory. In disposing of a demurrer to the bill, numerous cases involving the exercise of original jurisdiction by this court were examined, and the court, speaking through Mr. Justice Shiras, said: "The cases cited show that such jurisdiction has been exercised in cases involving boundaries and jurisdiction over lands and their inhabitants, and in cases directly affecting the property rights and interests of a State. But such cases manifestly do not cover the entire field in which such controversies may arise, and for which the Constitution has provided a remedy; and it would be objectionable, and, indeed, impossible, for the court to anticipate by definition what controversies can and what cannot be brought within the original jurisdiction of this court. An inspection of the bill discloses that the nature of the ...

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