« AnteriorContinuar »
of allegiance to the United States prescribed by the naturalization law and regulations, and such oath may be taken before any court of the United States or of any State authorized by law to naturalize aliens or before any consul of the United States, and certified copies thereof shall be sent by such court or consul to the Department of State and the Bureau of Naturalization, and the Act (Public fifty-five, Sixty-fifth Congress, approved October fifth, nineteen hundred and seventeen) is hereby repealed.
Very properly, a person serving in the military or naval forces of the United States at the end of the war, or honorably discharged therefrom during its continuance, on account of disability incurred in the line of duty, is by the thirteenth of the new sections “relieved from the necessity of proving that immediately preceding the date of his application he has resided continuously within the United States the time required by law of other aliens.”
Finally, a third section of this Act clears up the doubt which might have existed as to the validity for military purposes of a declaration of intention filed before the Naturalization Act of 1906 went into effect, by providing that
All certificates of naturalization granted by courts of competent jurisdiction prior to December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and eighteen, upon petitions for naturalization filed prior to January thirty-first, nineteen hundred and eighteen, upon declarations of intention filed prior to September twenty-seventh, nineteen hundred and six, are hereby declared to be valid in so far as the declaration of intention is conce
cerned, but shall not be by this Act further validated or legalized.
Such are the most important provisions of this Act.
JAMES BROWN SCOTT.
SUITS BETWEEN STATES
The Supreme Court of the United States, as if to call attention to its fitness to decide controversies between States by the application of principles of justice, has already handed down in this year of war two decisions; the first on March 4, 1918, in a boundary dispute between the States of Arkansas and Tennessee, the second on April 22, 1918, in the long drawn out controversy between the States of Virginia and West Virginia as to the obligation of the latter State to pay a proportional part of the debt contracted by Virginia before West Virginia was separated from it. In addition the Supreme Court, on June 10, 1918, entered a decree in the controversy between Arkansas and Tennessee, appointing a commission, with the approval and upon request
of counsel for the States, to draw and mark the boundary and to report its proceedings to the court for its confirmation or such further action as may be deemed necessary in the premises. The court also heard argument, upon its own suggestion, of counsel for the United States in the controversy between the States of Wyoming and Colorado in a matter of irrigation, in order that the rights of the States should be considered with due regard to the rights of the United States as trustee of the States forming the American Union. The decision of this case, expected before the adjournment of the court on June 10, 1918, has apparently gone over because of its importance, but will probably be delivered in the October term of the present year.
From this brief statement it will be seen that, in the course of a year which has not yet sped, the Supreme Court of these United States has had before it not merely a dispute involving sovereignty over a particular region claimed by two of these States; a controversy involving an obligation of a State to assume and to pay a proportional part of expenses incurred in its behalf before separation from that State and to pay a judgment fixing that obligation in the sum of twelve million dollars, with interest, but also a controversy between two States of the Union and the United States, as the representative of the Union, each litigant appearing by its counsel in due course to have a question involving the rights of sovereign communities and of sovereign States determined by that due process of law and the application of principles of justice obtaining between individuals.
The determination of a boundary between States of the American Union has become such a matter of course, that the only feature in it attracting attention may be said to be the suggestion of the court, made in the trial of Cissna v. Tennessee (242 U. S. 195, 198), that the two States should file their bill in equity in the Supreme Court to determine the boundary between them, upon which the decision in the case then before them depended. So familiar has the process of judicial settlement become in the course of the century, that the judges of the Supreme Court are no longer appalled by the appearance of States at their bar, but, in the course of argument, suggest, as it were offhand, that the Supreme Court is open to the august litigants should they desire to avail themselves of the jurisdiction with which it was wisely invested by the framers of the Constitution in order to prevent a resort to arms upon the breakdown of negotiations between political communities.
On March 7, 1876, the Mississippi River made for itself, suddenly and without forewarning, a new channel, appropriately called the "Centennial Channel," and the question at issue between the litigating States was whether the land between the old and the new channel, which had belonged to Tennessee, became the property of Arkansas, inasmuch as the Mississippi River was the boundary between the two States. This question was not a new one in the Supreme Court, and for present purposes the holding of the court is sufficiently stated in the following portion of the headnote prefixed to the case:
When two States of the Union are separated by a navigable stream, their boundary being described as “a line drawn along the middle of the river," or as "the middle of the main channel of the river,” the boundary must be fixed (by the rule of the "thalweg) at the middle of the main navigable channel, so that each State may enjoy an equal right of navigation. Iowa v. Illinois, 147 U. S. 1.
Following this principle, the court holds that the true boundary line between the States of Arkansas and Tennessee is the middle of the main channel of navigation of the Mississippi, as it existed at the Treaty of Peace concluded between the United States and Great Britain in 1783, subject to such changes as have occurred since that time through natural and gradual processes.
Where running streams are the boundaries between States, the same rule applies as between private proprietors, namely, that when the bed and channel are changed by the natural and gradual processes known as erosion and accretion, the boundary follows the varying course of the stream; while if the stream from any cause, natural or artificial, suddenly leaves its old bed and forms a new one, by the process known as an avulsion, the resulting change of channel works no change of boundary, which remains in the middle of the old channel, although no water may be flowing in it, and irrespective of subsequent changes in the new channel.
This rule applies to a navigable stream between States; the boundary is not changed by an avulsion but remains as it was before, the center line of the old main channel of navigation. ...
After an avulsion, so long as the old channel remains a running stream, the boundary marked by it is still subject to be changed by erosion and accretion; but when the water becomes stagnant the effect of these processes is at an end; the boundary then becomes fixed at the middle of the channel, as above defined, and the gradual filling up of the bed that ensues is not to be treated as an accretion to the shores but as an ultimate effect of the avulsion. ...
The court will appoint a commission to run, locate and designate the boundary line between the two States at the place in question, in accordance with the principles herein stated. The nature and extent of the erosions and accretions that occurred in the old channel prior to the avulsion here involved, and the question whether it is practicable now to locate accurately the line of the river as it then ran, will be referred to said commission, subject to a review of its decision by this court if need be.
It is to be observed that the court specifically accepts, and rightly, the principles of law determining the rights of private litigants and applies them to controversies between the States; and some day nations may perhaps learn to their great benefit and, be it said, to the benefit of humanity at large, that rights and duties depend upon the act itself and not upon the parties in controversy seeking either to gain a benefit or to avoid a detriment by the act in question. Fortunately for the States of the American Union this doctrine is a mere commonplace, and would not deserve mention, even in passing, were it not for the fact that it appears to be either unknown or to be considered as extraordinary in other parts of the world. Because of this fact, Justice Baldwin's statement of it, in the leading case of Rhode Island v. Massachusetts (12 Peters 657, 733-735), decided in 1838, may be quoted:
Title, jurisdiction, sovereignty, are, therefore, dependent questions, necessarily settled, when boundary is ascertained, which, being the line of territory, is the line of power over it; so that great as questions of jurisdiction and sovereignty may be, they depend in this case on two simple facts. 1. Where is the southernmost point of Charles river? 2. Where is the point, three English miles in a south line, drawn from it? When these points are ascertained, which, by the terms, are those called for in both charters, then an east and west line from the second point is necessarily the boundary between the two states, if the charters govern it.
If this court can, in a case of original jurisdiction, where both parties appear, and the plaintiff rests his case on these facts, proceed to ascertain them; there must be an end of this cause, when they are ascertained, if the issue between them is upon original right by the charter boundaries. We think, it does not require reason or precedent, to show that we may ascertain facts, with or without a jury, at our discretion, as the circuit courts, and all others do, in the ordinary course of equity; our power to examine the evidence in the cause, and thereby ascertain a fact, can not depend on its effects, however important in their consequences. Whether the sovereignty of the United States, of a state, or the property of an individual, depends on the locality of a tree, a stone, or water-course; whether the right depends on a charter, treaty, cession, compact, or a common deed; the right is to territory, great or small in extent, and power over it, either of government or private property; the title of a state is sovereignty, full and absolute dominion (2 Pet. 300–1); the title of an individual, such as the state makes it by its grant and law.
No court acts differently in deciding on boundary between states, than on lines between separate tracts of land; if there is uncertainty where the line is, if there is a confusion of boundaries by the nature of interlocking grants, the obliteration of marks, the intermixing of possession under different proprietors, the effects of accident, fraud, or time, or other kindred causes, it is a case appropriate to equity. An issue at law is directed, a commission of boundary awarded; or, if the courts are satisfied, without either, they decree what and where the boundary of a farm, a manor, province, or a state, is and shall be. When no other matter affects a
boundary, a decree settles it as having been by original right, at the place decreed; in the same manner, as has been stated, where it is settled by treaty or compact; all dependent rights are settled, when boundary is. 1 Ves. sen. 448–50. If, heretofore, there was an issue in this case, on the locality of the point three miles south of the southernmost point of Charles river, we should be competent to decide it; and decree where the boundary between the states was, in 1629 and 1663, at the dates of their respective charter[s].
On these principles, it becomes unnecessary to decide on the remaining prayers of the bill; if we grant the first, and settle boundary, the others follow; and if the plaintiff obtains relief as to that, he wants no other. The established forms of such decrees extend to everything in manner or way necessary to the final establishment of the boundary, as the true line of right and power between the parties.
The second case is one with which the lawyer interested in controversies between States is familiar, and one with which the Supreme Court itself doubtless wishes it were less familiar, for, in one or other of its phases, the case has been before that august tribunal no less than nine times, including the present suit, and the end is not yet. Mr. Chief Justice White delivered the brief opinion of the court on its eighth appearance, and, in delivering the unanimous opinion of his brethren on the present occasion, he thus summarizes the original cause of action, the proceedings had, and the present status of the controversy:
A rule allowed at the instance of Virginia against West Virginia to show cause why in default of payment of the judgment of this court in favor of the former State against the latter, an order should not be entered directing the levy of a tax by the legislature of West Virginia to pay such judgment, and a motion by West Virginia to dismiss the rule is the matter before us.
In the suit in which the judgment was rendered Virginia, invoking the original jurisdiction of this court, sought the enforcement of a contract by which it was averred West Virginia was bound. The judgment which resulted was for $12,393,929.50 with interest and it was based upon three propositions specifically found to be established: First, that when territory was carved out of the dominion of the State of Virginia for the purpose of constituting the area of the State of West Virginia, the new State, coincident with its existence, became bound for and assumed to pay its just proportion of the previous public debt of Virginia. Second, that this obligation of West Virginia was the subject of a contract between the two States made with the consent of Congress and was incorporated into the Constitution by which West Virginia was admitted by Congress into the Union and therefore became a condition of such admission and a part of the very governmental fiber of that State. Third, that the sum of the judgment rendered constituted the equitable proportion of this debt due by West Virginia in accordance with the obligations of the contract.
The suit was commenced in 1906 and the judgment rendered in 1915. The various opinions expressed during the progress of the cause will be found in the re