State of New Jersey v. State of New York Commonwealth of Pennsylvania 13 15, 1931, No. 16

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHOLMES
Citation283 U.S. 336,75 L.Ed. 1104,51 S.Ct. 478
PartiesSTATE OF NEW JERSEY v. STATE OF NEW YORK et al. (COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Intervener). Argued on Exceptions to Report of the Special Master April 13-15, 1931
Docket NumberNo. 16
Decision Date04 May 1931

283 U.S. 336
51 S.Ct. 478
75 L.Ed. 1104
STATE OF NEW JERSEY

v.

STATE OF NEW YORK et al. (COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, Intervener).

No. 16.

Argued on Exceptions to Report of the Special Master April 13-15, 1931.

Decided May 4, 1931.

[Syllabus from pages 336-338 intentionally omitted]

Page 338

Messrs. Duane E. Minard, of Newark, N. J., James M. Beck, of Washington, D. C., and William A. Stevens, of Red Bank, N. J., for complainant.

Page 339

Mr. Thomas Penney, Jr., o Buf falo, N. Y., for defendant State of New york.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 339-340 intentionally omitted]

Page 340

Mr. Arthur J. W. Hilly, of New York City, for defendant City of New york.

Mr. George G. Chandler, of Philadelphia, Pa., for intervener State of Pennsylvania.

[Argument of Counsel from page 340 intentionally omitted]

Page 341

Mr. Justice HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a bill in equity by which the State of New Jersey seeks to enjoin the State of New York and the City of New York from diverting any waters from the Delaware River or its tributaries, and particularly from the Neversink River, Willowemoc River, Beaver Kill, East Branch of the Delaware River and Little Delaware River, or from any part of any one of them. The other rivers named are among the headwaters of the Delaware and flow into it where it forms a boundary between New York and Pennsylvania. The Delaware continues its course as such boundary to Tristate Rock, near Port Jervis in New York, at which point Pennsylvania and New York

Page 342

are met by New Jersey. From there the river marks the boundary between Pennsylvania and New Jersey until Pennsylvania stops at the Delaware state line, and from then on the river divides Delaware from New Jersey until it reaches the Atlantic between Cape Henlopen and Cape May.

New York proposes to divert a large amount of water from the above-named tributaries of the Delaware and from the watershed of that river to the watershed of the Hudson River in order to increase the water supply of the City of New York. New Jersey insists on a strict application of the rules of the common law governing private riparian proprietors subject to the same sovereign power. Pennsylvania intervenes to protect its interests as against anything that might be done to prejudice its future needs.

We are met at the outset by the question what rule is to be applied. It is established that a more liberal answer may be given than in a controversy between neighbors members of a single State. Connecticut v. Massachusetts, 282 U. S. 660, 51 S. Ct. 286, 75 L. Ed. 602, February 24, 1931 (see, also, Id., 283 U. S. 789, 51 S. Ct. 356, 75 L. Ed. —). Different considerations come in when we are dealing with independent sovereigns having to regard the welfare of the whole population and when the alternative to settlement is war. In a less degree, perhaps, the same is rule of the quasi-sovereignties bound together in the Union. A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure. It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have power over it. New York has the physical power to cut off all the water within its jurisdiction. But clearly the exercise of such a power to the destruction of the interest of lower States could not be tolerated. And on the other hand equally little could New Jersey be permitted to require New York to give up its power altogether in order that the river might come down to it undiminished. Both States have real and substantial interests in the River that must be reconciled

Page 343

as best they may. The different traditions and practices in different parts of the country may lead to varying results but the effort always is to secure an equitable apportionment without quibbling over formulas. See Missouri v. Illinois, 200 U. S. 496, 520, 26 S. Ct. 268, 50 L. Ed. 572; Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U. S. 46, 98, 117, 27 S. Ct. 655, 51 L. Ed. 956; Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U. S. 230, 237, 27 S. Ct. 618, 51 L. Ed. 1038, 11 Ann. Cas. 488; Wyoming v. Colorado, 259 U. S. 419, 465, 470, 42 S. Ct. 552, 66 L. Ed. 999; Connecticut v. Massachusetts, February 24, 1931.

This case was referred to a Master and a great mass of evidence was taken. In a most competent and excellent report the Master adopted the principle of equitable division which clearly results from the decisions of the last quarter of a century. Where that principle is established there is not much left to discuss. The removal of water to a different watershed obviously must be allowed at times unless States are to be deprived of the most beneficial use on formal grounds. In fact it has been alowe d repeatedly and has been practiced by the States concerned. Missouri v. Illinois, 200 U. S. 496, 526, 26 S. Ct. 268, 50 L. Ed. 572; Wyoming v. Colorado, 259 U. S. 419, 466, 42 S. Ct. 552, 66 L. Ed. 999; Connecticut v. Massachusetts, February 24, 1931.

New Jersey alleges that the proposed diversion will transgress its rights in many respects. That it will interfere with the navigability of the Delaware without the authority of Congress or the Secretary of War. That it will deprive the State and its citizens who are riparian owners of the undiminished flow of the stream to which they are entitled by the common law as adopted by both States. That it will injuriously affect water power and the ability to...

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89 practice notes
  • State v. State, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 20 Enero 2010
    ...and interests of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania in the Delaware River.” Id., at 374, 73 S.Ct. 689; see also New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 342, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104 (1931). In view of Pennsylvania's participation, the Court wrote that when a State is “a party to a suit ......
  • Eldridge v. City of Palo Alto
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 23 Abril 1976
    ...it is a treasure. It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have power ovr it.' (New Jersey v. New York (1931) 283 U.S. 336, 342, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104, 1106.) Five years ago Justice Douglas spoke for the high court in admonishing the Federal Power Commission......
  • Com. of Pa., by Shapp v. Kleppe, No. 74-1960
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 3 Mayo 1976
    ...standing. 31 Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230, 237, 27 S.Ct. 618, 619, 51 L.Ed. 1038, 1044 (1907). 32 New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104 (1931) (standing not discussed); North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 365, 373-74, 44 S.Ct. 138, 139, 68 L.Ed. ......
  • Barnes v. Andover Co., L.P., No. 86-1508
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • 25 Abril 1990
    ...Congress." City of Milwaukee v. Illinois, 451 U.S. 304, 313, 101 S.Ct. 1784, 1790, 68 L.Ed.2d 114 (1981) (quoting New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 348, 51 S.Ct. 478, 481, 75 L.Ed. 1104 Congressional legislation preempts federal common law when it speaks directly to the question at issu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
84 cases
  • State v. State, No. 138
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • 20 Enero 2010
    ...and interests of Philadelphia and Eastern Pennsylvania in the Delaware River.” Id., at 374, 73 S.Ct. 689; see also New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 342, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104 (1931). In view of Pennsylvania's participation, the Court wrote that when a State is “a party to a suit ......
  • Eldridge v. City of Palo Alto
    • United States
    • California Court of Appeals
    • 23 Abril 1976
    ...it is a treasure. It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have power ovr it.' (New Jersey v. New York (1931) 283 U.S. 336, 342, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104, 1106.) Five years ago Justice Douglas spoke for the high court in admonishing the Federal Power Commission......
  • Com. of Pa., by Shapp v. Kleppe, No. 74-1960
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • 3 Mayo 1976
    ...standing. 31 Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230, 237, 27 S.Ct. 618, 619, 51 L.Ed. 1038, 1044 (1907). 32 New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 51 S.Ct. 478, 75 L.Ed. 1104 (1931) (standing not discussed); North Dakota v. Minnesota, 263 U.S. 365, 373-74, 44 S.Ct. 138, 139, 68 L.Ed. ......
  • Barnes v. Andover Co., L.P., No. 86-1508
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
    • 25 Abril 1990
    ...Congress." City of Milwaukee v. Illinois, 451 U.S. 304, 313, 101 S.Ct. 1784, 1790, 68 L.Ed.2d 114 (1981) (quoting New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 348, 51 S.Ct. 478, 481, 75 L.Ed. 1104 Congressional legislation preempts federal common law when it speaks directly to the question at issu......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 books & journal articles
  • Rethinking the Supreme Court’s Interstate Waters Jurisprudence
    • United States
    • Georgetown Environmental Law Review Nbr. 33-2, January 2021
    • 1 Enero 2021
    ...federal constitution than that the states are equal in rank and equal in economic opportunity.”). 3. See, e.g., New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 342 (1931) (“A river is more than an amenity, it is a treasure. It offers a necessity of life that must be rationed among those who have powe......
  • The Clean Water Act's 'Cooperative Federalism' and the Federal/State Regulatory Balance
    • United States
    • The Clean Water Act and the Constitution. Legal Structure and the Public's Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment Part I
    • 20 Abril 2009
    ...of pollution, and to provide Federal technical services and financial aid to State and interstate agencies 1. New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 342 (1931). 2. The Act did not acquire the name “Clean Water Act” until the Amendments in the CWA of 1977, Pub. L. No. 95-217, 91 Stat. 1566 (D......
  • Water Wars: Solving Interstate Water Disputes Through Concurrent Federal Jurisdiction
    • United States
    • Environmental Law Reporter Nbr. 47-11, November 2017
    • 1 Noviembre 2017
    ..., 558 U.S. at 289 (Roberts, J., concurring in judgment, and dissenting in part); Horne, supra note 3, at 97. 114. New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 342 (1931). 115. See id .; Jeremy P. Jacobs, Rising Tide of Interstate Battles Could Swamp the Supreme Court , E&E News, Oct. 29, 2015, htt......
  • Interstate Water Pollution, Federal Common Law, and the Clean Water Act
    • United States
    • The Clean Water Act and the Constitution. Legal Structure and the Public's Right to a Clean and Healthy Environment Part I
    • 20 Abril 2009
    ...304 U.S. 64, 78 (1938); United States v. Hudson & Goodwin, 7 Cranch. 32 (1812)). 81. Id . at 313-14 (citing New Jersey v. New York, 283 U.S. 336, 348 (1931)). ch03.indd 71 4/30/09 10:09:36 AM 72 the clean water act and the constitution for such an unusual exercise of lawmaking by the federa......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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