Arizona v. California,
298 U.S. 558 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Arizona v. California, 298 U.S. 558 (1936)

Arizona v. California

No. ___, original

Argued April 28, 1936

Decided May 25, 1936

298 U.S. 558


1. The United States is not subject to be sued without its consent, even by a State. P. 568.

2. Arizona tendered to this Court her original bill against California and the other States of the Colorado Rive Basin, praying for a judicial apportionment among them all of the unappropriated waters of that river and that she be decreed the unclouded right to the permanent use of her share. The United States, by the Boulder Canyon Project Act, and by acts of its officers thereunder, had undertaken, in the asserted exercise of its authority to control navigation, to impound, and control the disposition of, the surplus water in the stream not already appropriated; it was not denied that the natural, dependable flow was already over-appropriated, and it did not appear that, without the storage of the impounded water, any substantial amount of water would be available for appropriation. Held that permission to file the bill must be denied upon the ground that the United States would be an indispensable party. P. 298 U. S. 570.

3. The fact that no decree rendered in its absence can bind the United States is not an inducement for this Court to decide the rights of the States before it by a decree which, because of the absence of the United States, could have no finality. P. 298 U. S. 572.

4. Permission to file an original bill will not be granted if the bill, when filed, must be dismissed because of the absence of the United States as a party. P. 298 U. S. 572.

Petition denied.

Arizona, on November 25, 1935, asked leave to file a bill against California and the five other States of the Colorado River Basin, praying in effect for a partition of the right to appropriate in the future the waters of the stream not as yet appropriated. The defendants were ruled to show cause, December 9, 1935, 296 U.S. 552. Returns to the rule were made on March 16, 1936. A motion by Fred T. Colter and others for leave to intervene was denied March 30, 1936, 297 U.S. 699. The case was

Page 298 U. S. 559

argued and presented on the Arizona petition and the returns of the other States.

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