Arkansas v. Mississippi,
250 U.S. 39 (1919)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Arkansas v. Mississippi, 250 U.S. 39 (1919)

Arkansas v. Mississippi

No. 7, Original

Argued March 3, 4, 1919

Decided March 19, 1919

250 U.S. 39


Under Equity Rule 31, a replication held not required in order to put in issue the allegations of the answer. P. 250 U. S. 41.

The act admitting Mississippi as a state describes the boundary as beginning "on the River Mississippi" and, after other courses, extending again "to the Mississippi River, thence up the same to the beginning;" the act admitting Arkansas describes the boundary as "beginning in the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi," thence along other courses, and back "to the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi River; thence up the middle of the main channel of the said river to the . . . point of beginning." Held that the boundary between the two states as fixed by the acts was the middle of the main channel of navigation, and not a line equidistant from the banks of the river. P. 250 U. S. 43. Arkansas v. Tennessee, 246 U. S. 158. It does not appear that any specific agreement was entered into between the States of Mississippi and Arkansas, under the Joint Resolution of Congress of January 26, 1909, 35 Stat. 111, authorizing

Page 250 U. S. 40

an agreement or compact "to fix the boundary line between said states where the Mississippi River now or formerly formed the said boundary line" and to make mutual cessions of land separated by changes in the river, settle jurisdiction as to offenses on the river, etc. P. 250 U. S. 43.

The court finds no occasion in the constitutions, law, or decisions of the two states, or in acquiescence and practices of the inhabitants of the disputed territory in recognition of another boundary, to depart from the principle which makes equality of navigation the controlling consideration in fixing the boundary between states separated by a navigable stream. P. 250 U. S. 44.

In case of an avulsion, the boundary line is to be fixed at the middle of the main channel of navigation as it was just previous to the avulsion. P. 250 U. S. 45.

The location of the disputed line will be left in the first instance to commissioners to be appointed by the Court upon suggestion of counsel, with power to take further proofs as may be authorized by the interlocutory decree to be entered herein. P. 250 U. S. 47.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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