Monday, March 5, 2018

Texas v. New Mexico, On Exceptions To Report Of Special Master, Docket No. 141, Orig.

Compact clause: Congressional ratification: Original jurisdiction: Foreign affairs: Intervention (proc.):

Our analysis begins with the Constitution. Its Compact Clause provides that “no State shall, without the Con­sent of Congress, . . . enter into any Agreement or Com­pact with another State.” Art. I, §10, cl. 3. Congress’s approval serves to “prevent any compact or agreement between any two States, which might affect injuriously the interests of the others.” Florida v. Georgia, 17 How. 478, 494 (1855). It also ensures that the Legislature can “check any infringement of the rights of the national govern­ment.”  J. Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States §1397, p. 272 (1833) (in subsequent editions, §1403). So, for example, if a proposed interstate agreement might lead to friction with a foreign country or injure the interests of another region of our own, Congress may withhold its approval. But once Congress gives its consent, a compact between States—like any other federal statute—becomes the law of the land. Texas v. New Mexico, 462 U. S. 554, 564 (1983).

Our role in compact cases differs from our role in ordi­nary litigation. The Constitution endows this Court with original jurisdiction over disputes between the States. See Art. III, §2. And this Court’s role in these cases is to serve “as a substitute for the diplomatic settlement of contro­versies between sovereigns and a possible resort to force.” Kansas v. Nebraska, 574 U. S. ___, ___ (2015) (slip op., at 6) (quoting North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U. S. 365, 372–373 (1923)). As a result, the Court may, “in this singular sphere, . . . ‘regulate and mould the process it uses in such a manner as in its judgment will best pro­mote the purposes of justice.’” 574 U. S., at ___–___ (slip op., at 6–7) (quoting Kentucky v. Dennison, 24 How. 66, 98 (1861)).

Using that special authority, we have sometimes per­mitted the federal government to participate in compact suits to defend “distinctively federal interests” that a normal litigant might not be permitted to pursue in tradi­tional litigation. Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U. S. 725, 745, n. 21 (1981). At the same time, our permission should not be confused for license. Viewed from some sufficiently abstract level of generality, almost any com­pact between the States will touch on some concern of the national government—foreign affairs, interstate com­merce, taxing and spending. No doubt that is the very reason why the Constitution requires congressional ratifi­cation of state compacts. But just because Congress en­joys a special role in approving interstate agreements, it does not necessarily follow that the United States has blanket authority to intervene in cases concerning the construction of those agreements.

(U.S.S.C., March 5, 2018, Texas v. New Mexico, On Exceptions To Report Of Special Master, Docket No. 141, Orig., J. Gorsuch, unanimous)

Les accords entre états sont soumis à la ratification du Congrès fédéral (Cst féd. Art. I, §10, cl. 3). Le but étant d'éviter l'entrée en vigueur d'accords qui porteraient atteinte aux intérêts d'états tiers, du Gouvernement fédéral, ou de nature à provoquer des frictions avec un état étranger. Une fois l'approbation du Congrès donnée, l'accord acquiert force de droit fédéral.

Les litiges relatifs à ces accords sont à porter devant la Cour Suprême fédérale, qui fonctionne ici comme instance unique avec plein pouvoir d'examen.

Dans ces affaires, la Cour peut autoriser le Gouvernement fédéral à participer à la procédure pour défendre des intérêts fédéraux distincts.

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