I, Interstate Compacts.
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall, James W. Ely Jr., Joel B. Grossman
Edited By: Kermit L. Hall
As a vestige of the power to make treaties enjoyed by sovereign nations, the Constitution (Art. I, sec. 10) permits states, with the consent of Congress, to enter into an agreement or compact with another state. From 1789 to 1920, thirty-six interstate compacts were made, primarily dealing with boundaries and cessions of territory. In the next three decades sixty-five compacts were made on matters such as protection of the environment and the use of natural resources, crime control, transportation, utility regulation, tobacco production, and sundry local issues that transcended state boundaries. Since the 1950s, interstate cooperation has become institutionalized by permanent commissions in all the states and the Council of State Governments, which study narrowly conceived and technical problems that might be handled through interstate compacts. The hope of many students of *federalism in the 1930s that interstate cooperation and uniform state legislation could provide an alternative to consolidation of policy making in the national government has not been realized. Nevertheless, interstate compacts are a means by which states retain control over some local issues and preserve a modicum of power in an increasingly centralized polity.
The most important Supreme Court decision on this subject was *Virginia v. Tennessee (1893). The Court held that the assent of Congress was not required to agreements having no tendency to increase the political powers of the states or to encroach on the supremacy of the national government.
Herman J. Belz