Oklahoma ex rel. Phillips v. Guy F. Atkinson Co. - 313 U.S. 508 (1941)


U.S. Supreme Court

Oklahoma ex rel. Phillips v. Guy F. Atkinson Co., 313 U.S. 508 (1941)

Oklahoma ex rel. Phillips v. Guy F. Atkinson Co.

No. 832

Argued May 6, 7, 1941

Decided June 2, 1941

313 U.S. 508

Syllabus

1. The Denison Dam and Reservoir Project on the Red River in Oklahoma and Texas, authorized by the Act of June 28, 1938, is a valid exercise of the commerce power by Congress. P. 313 U. S. 516.

This is a multipurpose project -- part of a comprehensive scheme for controlling floods in the Mississippi River through reservoir control of its tributaries, of which the Red River is one of the more important. It aims also to protect and improve navigation of the Red River itself on its navigable stretches (which lie below the State of Oklahoma) by averting damaging floods and by regulating stream flow, and it provides means for creating hydroelectric power, the disposition of which will offset some of the costs of the flood control and of the stream flow regulation.

2. The fact that portions of a navigable stream are no longer used for commerce does not dilute the power of Congress over them. P. 313 U. S. 523.

3. Congress may control nonnavigable parts of a river in order to preserve and promote commerce on the navigable parts. P. 313 U. S. 523.

4. The power of Congress, under the Commerce Clause, to protect a navigable river from floods extends to the control of waters of its tributaries. P. 525.

5. The exercise of the granted power to regulate interstate commerce may be aided by appropriate and needful control of activities and agencies which, though intrastate, affect that commerce. P. 313 U. S. 526.

6. It is for Congress alone to decide whether a particular project, by itself or as part of a more comprehensive scheme, will have such a beneficial effect on the arteries of interstate commerce as to warrant it. P. 313 U. S. 527.

It is not for the Court to determine whether the resulting benefits to commerce will outweigh the costs of the project. Nor may the Court inquire into the considerations or objectives which moved members of Congress to vote for the project.

7. Inclusion of the water power feature in the Denison project, thereby increasing the height of the dam and the area of land to be

Page 313 U. S. 509

taken for the reservoir, did not exceed the authority of Congress. The project ii basically one of flood control, including river flow, and those functions are interrelated with the power function. P. 313 U. S. 529.

8. Whether the work of food control would be better done by a dam of one design or another was for Congress to determine. P. 313 U. S. 533.

9. A respects the authority of Congress to adopt a plan for flood control, it is not an objection that it will also serve other ends which may be relatively more important. P. 313 U. S. 534.

10. The Tenth Amendment does not deprive the National Government of authority to resort to all means for the exercise of a granted power which are appropriate and plainly adapted to the permitted end. P. 313 U. S. 534.

11. Construction of the Denison Dam and Reservoir does not interfere with the sovereignty of Oklahoma. P. 313 U. S. 534.

12. The facts that land included in a federal reservoir project is owned by a State, or that its taking may impair the tax revenue of the State, and that the reservoir will obliterate part of the State's boundary, and that the State's own project for water development and conservation will be interfered with -- constitute no barrier to condemnation of the land by the United States under its superior power of eminent domain. P. 313 U. S. 534.

37 F.Supp. 93, affirmed.

Appeal from a decree dismissing on motion a bill through which the Oklahoma sought to enjoin the construction, pursuant to an Act of Congress, of a dam and reservoir, upon the ground that the Act and the project exceeded the power of Congress and were contrary to the sovereign and proprietary rights of the State.

Page 313 U. S. 510



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