California v. Nevada - 447 U.S. 125 (1980)


U.S. Supreme Court

California v. Nevada, 447 U.S. 125 (1980)

California v. Nevada

No. 73, Orig.

Argued April 14, 1980

Decided June 10, 1980

447 U.S. 125

Syllabus

Held:

1. The Special Master was fully justified in invoking the doctrine of acquiescence in concluding that the true boundary between California and Nevada is that located by two surveys, funded by congressional appropriations in 1872 and 1892, since both States have acquiesced in those boundary lines from the time they were drawn. The issue of whether Congress had power to determine the lines even though an 1863 joint survey had been commissioned by the States, which both adopted the results thereof by statute, need not be decided, since it is not necessary that there be a particular relationship between the origins of a boundary and the legal consequences of acquiescence in that boundary. Longstanding acquiescence by the States can give the boundary lines the force of law whether or not federal authorities had the power to draw them. Pp. 447 U. S. 130-132.

2. However, the Special Master's reference will not be expanded to authorize him to determine whether the United States should be made a party to the case and to make recommendations as to the quieting of title on various disputed borderlands. The ownership and title questions that remain typically will involve only one or the other State and the United States, or perhaps various citizens of those States, not disputes between the States. Thus, even if some of those questions do fall within this Court's original jurisdiction, they will not fall within its exclusive jurisdiction, and litigation in other forums is an appropriate means of resolving those questions. Pp. 447 U. S. 132-133.

Exceptions to Special Master's report overruled, and report adopted in part.

BRENNAN, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.

Page 447 U. S. 126



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