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U.S. Supreme Court

West Virginia ex rel. Dyer v. Sims, 341 U.S. 22 (1951)

West Virginia ex rel. Dyer v. Sims

No. 147

Argued December 5, 1950

Decided April 9, 1951

341 U.S. 22


With the consent of Congress under the Compact Clause of the Federal Constitution, West Virginia and seven other States entered into a Compact to control pollution in the Ohio River system. They created a Commission consisting of representatives of each of the eight States and the United States, and agreed to delegate certain powers to it and to appropriate funds for its administrative expenses. The West Virginia Legislature approved the Compact and appropriated funds to defray West Virginia's share of the expenses. In a mandamus proceeding to compel the State Auditor to issue a warrant for payment of these expenses, the State Supreme Court denied relief. It found that the state legislation constituted an unlawful delegation of legislative power and violated the debt limitation provision of Art. X, § 4 of the State Constitution.


1. This Court has final power to pass upon the meaning and validity of compacts between states. P. 28.

2. An agreement entered into between states by those who alone have political authority to speak for a state cannot be nullified unilaterally, or given final meaning by any organ of one of the contracting states. P. 341 U. S. 28.

3. This Court is free to examine determinations of law by state courts where an interstate compact brings in issue the rights of other states and the United States. Kentucky v. Indiana, 281 U. S. 163; Hinderlider v. La Plata Co., 304 U. S. 92. Pp. 341 U. S. 28-30.

4. The fact that the questions as to the Compact are before this Court on a writ of certiorari, rather than by way of an original action brought by a state, does not affect the power of this Court to decide those questions. P. 341 U. S. 30.

5. West Virginia had authority under her Constitution to enter into a Compact which involves only such delegation of power to an interstate agency as the Ohio River Compact presents. Pp. 341 U. S. 30-32. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 341 U. S. 23

6. The obligation of the State under the Compact is not in conflict with the debt limitation provision of Art. X, § 4 of the State Constitution. P. 341 U. S. 32.

134 W.Va.___, 58 S.E.2d 766, reversed.

In a mandamus proceeding, the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia held that state legislation authorizing the State's participation in a Compact with other States violated the State Constitution. 134 W.Va. ___, 58 S.E.2d 766. This Court granted certiorari. 340 U.S. 807. Reversed and remanded, p. 341 U. S. 32. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 341 U. S. 24

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