1. A state occupation tax on gross receipts may constitutionally
include the receipts from construction work done under a contract
with the United States. James v. Dravo Contracting Co.,
p. 302 U. S. 134
302 U. S.
2. Acquisition by the United States of exclusive territorial
jurisdiction over land to which it has acquired title within a
State is dependent upon consent of or cession from the State. P.
302 U. S.
3. Whether a State has yielded to the United States exclusive
legislative authority over land within the State is a federal
question. P. 302 U. S.
4. The provisions of the federal Reclamation Act relative to the
acquisition of land, and the provisions of Remington's Rev.Stats.
of Washington §§ 7410-7412 granting land to the United States for
irrigation projects, do not intend that, with the title, the United
States shall acquire exclusive jurisdiction over the land conveyed.
Pp. 302 U. S. 197
Page 302 U. S. 187
This applies to land in the bed of a navigable river, shorelands
and uplands, including school lands.
5. The term "other needful buildings" in Const. Art. I, § 8, Cl.
17, embraces whatever structures are found to be necessary in the
performance of the functions of the Federal Government. James
v. Dravo Contraction Co., ante,
p. 302 U. S. 134
302 U. S.
6. This clause of the Constitution does not imply that the
consent of the State to purchases must be without any reservation
of jurisdiction. James v. Dravo Contracting Co., ante,
302 U. S. 134
Such an implication would not be consistent with the freedom of
the State and with its admitted authority to refuse or qualify
cessions of jurisdiction when purchases have been made without
consent or property has been acquired by condemnation.
7. Sec. 8108 of Remington's Rev.Stats. of Washington, giving the
State's consent to acquisition of lands by the United States for
purposes named, applies to acquisition from individuals and
corporations, but semble
not to acquisitions from the
State itself. P. 302 U. S.
8. Sec. 8108 of Remington's Rev.Stats. of Washington, which
consents, in accordance with Const. Art. I, § 9, a. 17, to
acquisition of lands by the United States for locks, dams, piers,
etc., and other necessary structures and purposes required in
improvement of rivers and harbors of the State, or for sites of
forts and magazines, arsenals, docks etc., "or other needful
buildings" and cedes jurisdiction is construed by the State Supreme
Court as inapplicable, and as not yielding all legislative
authority of the State, where the land is acquired for a project
such as the Columbia Basin Project, which looks not only to the
improvement of navigation, but also to the development of
irrigation and of power for industrial purposes. Held:
(1) That, in view of the scope of the project mentioned, this
construction cannot be deemed inadmissible, and, even if not
binding, it should be accorded much weight. P. 302 U. S.
(2) Assuming that the power development contemplated is
incidental to improvement of navigation, reclamation of arid and
semi-arid land, one of the main objectives of the project, is an
activity always regarded as carrying with it an appropriate
recognition of continued state jurisdiction. Id.
(3) Therefore, this statute (enacted in 1891) cannot be taken as
conclusively showing an intent to yield exclusive jurisdiction in
such a case, and inasmuch as it appears that the Federal Government
did not intend to acquire exclusive jurisdiction, but
Page 302 U. S. 188
the continued existence of state jurisdiction consistent with
federal functions and invited the cooperation of the State in
providing an appropriate exercise of local authority over the
territory embraced in the project, the State court's construction
is accepted. Id.
9. In acquiring land for federal purposes, the Government is not
compelled to accept a transfer of exclusive jurisdiction from the
State. P. 302 U. S.
10. Unauthorized administrative action becomes legal when
ratified by Congress. P. 302 U. S.
11. Ratification of "all contracts" executed in connection with
the Grand Coulee Dam project permits reference to the contracts as
proving the intention not only of the federal officials who
executed them, but of Congress that, consistently with the
execution of the plan, the jurisdiction of the State over the large
area acquired, including jurisdiction over contractors engaged on
the project, should be retained. P. 302 U. S.
12. To invest the United States with exclusive jurisdiction over
tribal Indian lands in a State a cession from the State is
essential. P. ___.
13. The State of Washington had territorial jurisdiction to tax
the receipts of federal contractors on the land acquired by the
United States for the Grand Coulee Dam project, and the tax does
not lay an unconstitutional burden on the Federal Government. P.
302 U. S.
188 Wash. 98, 115, 61 P.2d 1269, 1276, affirmed.
Appeals from decrees affirming decrees of a Superior Court which
sustained occupation taxes laid on the gross receipts enuring to
the appellants under contracts with the United States for
construction work in the State of Washington. In the first case,
injunctive relief was denied by the Superior Court. The second case
included an action or appeal to recover a tax payment, and a suit
for an injunction, both of which were dismissed by the Superior
Page 302 U. S. 189
MR. CHIEF JUSTICE HUGHES delivered the opinion of the Court.
These suits were brought to restrain the enforcement of the
Occupation Tax Act of the State of Washington (Laws 1933, c.191, p.
869; Spec.Sess., 1933, c. 57, p. 157 [Footnote 1
]) as applied to the gross income received by
appellants under contracts with the United States for work
performed in connection with the building of the Grand Coulee
Page 302 U. S. 190
on the Columbia River. [Footnote
] The Supreme Court of the State sustained the tax and
affirmed judgments dismissing the suits. Silas Mason, Inc. v.
State Tax Commission,
188 Wash. 98, 61 P.2d 1269; Ryan v.
188 Wash. 115, 61 P.2d 1276. The cases come here on
The questions are (1) whether the tax imposes an
unconstitutional burden upon the Federal Government, and (2)
whether the areas in which appellants' work is performed are within
the exclusive jurisdiction of the United States. On reargument, and
at the request of the Court, the views of the Government upon these
questions were presented. With respect to the first question, our
ruling upholding the validity of a similar tax of West Virginia as
laid upon the gross receipts of a contractor engaged in building
locks and dams for the United States is controlling. James v.
Dravo Contracting Co., ante,
p. 302 U. S. 134
pass to the question of territorial jurisdiction.
1. The following facts as to the nature and history of the
enterprise, as set forth in appellants' complaints and shown by
evidence and stipulations, are uncontroverted: the Columbia River,
above its lower reaches, partakes of the character of a mountain
stream, its fall being great, its current swift, and its course
marked at intervals of a few miles by rapids flowing over and
through rocky masses of such magnitude as to render navigation
difficult, and in many instances impossible save by the
construction of canals and locks. There are great alternations in
its flow, its period of high water depending upon the melting of
snow in the mountains where its sources are found. Its principal
tributary is the Snake River, which has the same characteristics.
Through improvements that have been made and are contemplated,
Page 302 U. S. 191
the Columbia River is commercially navigable from its mouth to
the mouth of the Snake, and above that point, the Columbia is
navigable locally, from pool to pool, to the mouth of the Okanogan
River, but all such navigation is difficult, and not commercially
feasible because of the physical conditions above described. These
characteristics, however, "render it an ideal stream for the
development of hydroelectric power." For the most part, the
Columbia River within the United States flows through an arid
country, "the land being immensely productive and rich when placed
under irrigation, but of no value without irrigation." The course
of the river for the greater part of its length in the United
States lies wholly within the State of Washington. From a short
distance below the mouth of the Snake, the Columbia is the boundary
between the States of Washington and Oregon.
Following sporadic improvements extending over a number of
years, the Corps of Engineers of the War Department finally made an
exhaustive survey, and, in 1932, the Chief of Engineers of the
United States Army recommended a comprehensive plan for the
development of the Columbia River which took into consideration the
use of its waters for the purposes of navigation, flood control,
power development, and irrigation. The plan contemplated the
construction of ten dams across the river at various points in
Washington and where the river is the boundary between Washington
and Oregon. The uppermost of these dams is at the head of Grand
Coulee in Washington, about 150 miles below the international
boundary and 274 miles above the mouth of the Snake River. The plan
was commonly described as the Columbia Basin Project.
In June, 1933, Harold L. Ickes was appointed Administrator of
Public Works, and later the President, under authority of the
National Industrial Recovery Act (§§
Page 302 U. S. 192
201-203, 48 Stat. 200-205), directed the Administrator to
include in the Public Works program the Grand Coulee Dam and Power
Plant. Appellants state that the project, as finally recommended by
the War Department and the Department of the Interior,
contemplated, among other features, a dam at the Grand Coulee to be
370 feet high above low water (550 feet high, as actually
constructed) and 4,290 feet long on the crest, and a power plant to
develop 2,100,000 horsepower at a total cost of $392,000,000.
Appellants add that this is the key dam on the river, and will
create a lake 150 miles long, reaching the Canadian boundary; that
over 5,000,000 acre-feet of storage will become available, the
release of which, when the flow of the river is at its lowest, will
double the prime power of the river downstream to the Snake River
and add more than 50 percent. to the power of the Columbia below
the Snake; that the storage will have an appreciable effect in
reducing floods on the whole river, and that "there will be 905,500
acres of first class land available for irrigation."
In 1933, the Legislature of the State of Washington created the
Columbia Basin Commission to promote the Columbia Basin Project.
Laws 1933, c. 81, p. 376; Ryan v. State, supra,
115, 61 P.2d 1276, at 1277. For that purpose, the Commission
obtained an allocation of $377,000 of the emergency relief funds of
the State. On June 30, 1933, the United States, represented by the
Commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, under the provisions of
the Reclamation Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388), and amendatory
and supplementary acts made a contract with the Columbia Basin
Commission by which the United States agreed to undertake
topographic surveys and exploratory work and prepare certain
designs and estimates for which the Columbia Basin Commission
undertook to pay within the limits of its appropriation. Ryan
v. State, supra,
188 Wash. 115, 61 P.2d 1276 at 1278.
Page 302 U. S. 193
On November 1, 1933, the Secretary of the Interior signed a
memorandum, addressed to himself as Administrator of Public Works,
in which the Secretary recommended that the project
"be considered a federal project to be constructed, operated,
and maintained by the Bureau of Reclamation, and to be paid for
from net revenues derived from the sale of its electric power."
Under the same date, the United States, represented by the
Secretary of the Interior, in pursuance of the Reclamation Act of
1902 and the National Industrial Recovery Act, made a further
agreement with the State of Washington providing for the
expenditure by the United States, through the Bureau of
Reclamation, of the sum of $63,000,000 for the construction of a
dam and power plant at the Grand Coulee site, together with
necessary transmission lines. There was further provision that the
United States should retain title to the dam and power plant until
the cost of the project, including the cost of the first unit dam
and power plant, had been fully repaid into the United States
Treasury; that the State Commission should act as an advisory board
in conference with officers of the United States concerning the
various important questions which might arise in connection with
the construction and use of the dam, power plant, and transmission
lines, and that the State should have an option to purchase the
perpetual right to the entire power output of the first unit dam
and power plant upon prescribed conditions. Ryan v. State,
188 Wash. 115, 61 P.2d 1276, at 1278.
On December 12, 1933, the Secretary of the Interior and
Administrator of Public Works signed an amended Declaration of
Taking in the case of United States v. Continental Land
Company, et al.,
in the United States District Court for the
Eastern District of Washington, in which it was stated that certain
lands at the Grand Coulee Dam site to the extent of 840.28 acres
"are hereby taken for the use of the United States" in the
construction of a
Page 302 U. S. 194
"for the regulation and control of the flow of the Columbia
River, for a storage reservoir from the dam site to the Canadian
boundary, for the improvement of navigation, for flood control, for
hydroelectric power development at the Grand Coulee dam site, for
the increase of power development downstream, for the reclamation
of arid and semi-arid lands, for the domestic use of water, and for
the relief of unemployment."
Thereupon the United States immediately acquired title and
possession of the lands involved. 40 U.S.C. § 258a. Shortly after,
on January 4, 1934, the First Assistant Secretary of the Interior
gave formal notice to the Commissioner of Public Lands of
Washington of the intention of the United States to make
examinations and surveys, and attached to the notice a list of
lands owned by the State
"over and upon which the United States requires rights of way
for canals, ditches, laterals and sites for reservoirs and
structures appurtenant thereto, and such additional rights of way
and quantities of land as may be required for the operation and
maintenance of the completed works for the said proposed Columbia
The notice was given pursuant to the state statutes to which we
shall presently refer. The lands in this list are described as "Bed
and Shore Lands of Washington State" and "Uplands of Washington
State" affected by Columbia Basin Project.
In December, 1933, the Department of the Interior entered into a
contract with David H. Ryan (No. 8) for the excavation of the
"over-burden" at the dam site. That work was upon land, above high
water mark, already or about to be acquired by the United States.
The contractor completed it in the summer of 1934, maintaining his
office and living quarters within the territory of the Grand Coulee
Project. The contract provided that the appellant should "obtain
all required licenses and permits," should furnish "compensation
Page 302 U. S. 195
in compliance with the laws of the State, and should "comply
with all applicable provisions of federal, state, and municipal
safety laws and building and construction codes." Ryan v.
In July, 1934, a contract was made between the United States and
Silas Mason Company and others, appellants in No. 7, for the
construction of part of the Grand Coulee Dam and Power Plant
covered by described items in the schedule of specifications, for
the sum of $29,339,301.50. [Footnote 3
] This contract, like that of Ryan, required the
contractor to obtain licenses and permits and to furnish
compensation insurance in compliance with the workmen's
compensation law of the State.
Such a vast undertaking necessarily had in view a large number
of employees who, with their families, would require the
appropriate facilities of community life. Accordingly, the
specifications provided for the erection on the tract acquired by
the government of a "contractor's camp," embracing the various
buildings incident to the work and homes for the contractor's
employees. The contractor was required, regardless of the approval
of the contracting officer, to
"comply with all the laws and regulations of the State of
Washington, or any agency or subdivision thereof, which affect the
building, maintenance or operation"
of the camp. The discharge of sewage into the Columbia River was
to conform to the laws and regulations of the Department of Health
of the State. The contractor was to make all necessary arrangements
with the proper state and county authorities
Page 302 U. S. 196
for school facilities and for police protection which within
"the area involved in and surrounding the construction work" was to
be furnished by the Washington State Patrol, in cooperation with
the Government. The contractor was also to provide and maintain
jail facilities satisfactory to the Washington State Patrol, and to
cooperate with it and the Government in the maintenance of law and
The contractor's camp has developed into a community called
"Mason City." On the opposite side of the river lies another camp
maintained by the United States for the offices and residences of
its engineers. It appears that there are "two regularly formed
school districts" in the area in question, one in the "engineers'
town" and one in "Mason City," under the laws of the State of
Washington; that, in "Mason City," the policemen employed by the
contractor have been made deputy sheriffs of Okanogan County; that
the attorney for the contractor has been appointed a justice of the
peace, and one of the doctors in the hospital at the camp has been
made a deputy coroner, in that county; that, in the fall of 1933,
one who was operating a beer parlor within the part of the area
which lies in Grant County without a permit from the county
commissioners was fined in a justice's court as provided in the
local ordinance; that the sheriff of Grant County has been called
to the dam site to investigate infractions of local law.
In September, 1934, the Department of the Interior made a
further contract with appellant Ryan for the construction of a
railroad connecting with the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railway
Company at Odair, Wash., and running to the site of the Grand
Coulee Dam. The sole purpose of this railroad was to assist in the
construction of the dam and the appurtenant works.
By the Act of August 30, 1935, 49 Stat. 1028, 1039, 1040, the
Congress "validated and ratified" all the "contracts
Page 302 U. S. 197
and agreements" which had been executed in connection with the
Grand Coulee Dam.
2. No question is presented as to the constitutional authority
of Congress to provide for this enterprise or to acquire the lands
necessary or appropriate for that purpose. There is no contention
that the State may interfere with the conduct of the enterprise.
The question of exclusive territorial jurisdiction is distinct.
That question assumes the absence of any interference with the
exercise of the functions of the Federal Government, and is whether
the United States has acquired exclusive legislative authority so
as to debar the State from exercising any legislative authority,
including its taxing and police power, in relation to the property
and activities of individuals and corporations within the
territory. The acquisition of title by the United States is not
sufficient to effect that exclusion. It must appear that the State,
by consent or cession, has transferred to the United States that
residuum of jurisdiction which otherwise it would be free to
exercise. Surplus Trading Co. v. Cook, 281 U.
, 281 U. S.
-652; James v. Dravo Contracting Co., supra.
See also Fort Leavenworth R. Co. v. Lowe, 114 U.
, 114 U. S. 527
114 U. S. 539
Arlington Hotel Co. v. Fant, 278 U.
, 278 U. S. 451
United States v. Unzeuta, 281 U.
, 281 U. S.
In this instance, the Supreme Court of Washington has held that
the State has not yielded exclusive legislative authority to the
Federal Government. Ryan v. State, supra.
however, involving the extent of the jurisdiction of the United
States, is necessarily a federal question. Brewer-Elliott Oil
& Gas Co. v. United States, 260 U. S.
, 260 U. S. 87
United States v. Utah, 283 U. S. 64
283 U. S. 75
Borax Consolidated v. Los Angeles, 296 U. S.
, 296 U. S.
3. The question arises with respect (a) to lands acquired by the
United States from the State itself, (b) to lands acquired by the
United States from individual owners by purchase or condemnation,
(c) to Indian tribal lands.
Page 302 U. S. 198
Lands acquired from the State.
These consist of the
riverbed and shore lands and of certain uplands, including "school
While the United States has paramount authority over the river
for the purpose of the control and improvement of navigation, the
title to the riverbed, as well as to the shore lands and school
lands, was in the State (Port of Seattle v. Oregon &
Washington R. Co., 255 U. S. 56
255 U. S. 63
and the State had legislative authority over all this area
consistent with federal functions. United
States v. Bevans,
3 Wheat, 336, 16 U. S.
-387; Stockton v. Baltimore & N.Y. R.
32 F. 9, 18; Hamburg-American S.S. Co. v. Grube,
196 U. S. 407
196 U. S. 415
Gromer v. Standard Dredging Co., 224 U.
, 224 U. S.
-372. The notice to the state authorities by the
Department of the Interior with respect to the riverbed,
shorelands, and uplands owned by the State was said to be given
"pursuant to the Act of Congress of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388)
and acts amendatory thereof and supplementary thereto." 43 U.S.C. §
371 et seq.
. The notice is set forth in the margin.
] The reference is
to the United States Reclamation
Page 302 U. S. 199
Act. That act was not intended to provide for the acquisition of
exclusive federal jurisdiction. The act itself stated the contrary
(§ 8, 43 U.S.C. § 383). It directed the Secretary of the Interior
to proceed in conformity with the state laws in carrying out the
provisions of the Act, and provided that nothing therein contained
should be construed as interfering with the laws of the State
relating to the control, appropriation, use, or distribution of
water used in irrigation. The Act has been administered in harmony
with this controlling principle that the State should not be ousted
of jurisdiction. See Kansas v. Colorado, 206 U. S.
, 206 U. S. 92
Nebraska v. Wyoming, 295 U. S. 40
295 U. S. 42
California Oregon Power Co. v. Beaver Cement Co.,
295 U. S. 142
295 U. S.
The Department of the Interior expressly stated that the notice
was given "pursuant to § 3378 of Pierce's Code (1929)" with respect
to examinations and surveys, and the list of state lands "in
pursuance of § 3380 of Pierce's Code (1929)." These are §§ 7410 and
7412 of Remington's Revised Statutes, which with related provisions
were enacted in 1905. Laws of Washington, 1905, p. 180. These
provisions are set forth in the margin. [Footnote 5
Page 302 U. S. 200
were manifestly enacted to give authority to the United States
to acquire property for the purposes of irrigation under the United
States Reclamation Act, and with the corresponding limitations.
Thus, § 7410 (§ 3378 of Pierce's Code) provides for notice by the
Secretary of the Interior to the Commissioner of Public Lands of
the State that the United States pursuant to the Reclamation Act
intends to make examinations or surveys for the utilization of
specified waters. And § 7412 (§ 3380 of Pierce's Code) contemplates
the proceeding under the Reclamation Act as described in §
Page 302 U. S. 201
Section 7411 (§ 3379 of Pierce's Code) refers to the same sort
of proceeding. As to appropriation of water, it provides that
"by or on behalf of the
Page 302 U. S. 202
United States shall inure to the United States, and its
successors in interest, in the same manner and to the same extent
as though said appropriation had been made
Page 302 U. S. 203
by a private person, corporation or association."
As to acquisition of title by the United States, it
"The title to the beds and shores of any navigable lake or
stream utilized by the construction of any reservoir or other
irrigation works created or constructed as a part of such
appropriation hereinbefore in this section provided for, shall vest
in the United States to the extent necessary for the maintenance,
operation, and control of such reservoir or other irrigation
Neither in the statutes governing the proceeding initiated by
the Secretary of the Interior nor in the state statute was there
provision for acquisition by the United States of exclusive
legislative authority over the lands of the State to which title
was thus obtained. This is true with respect to all the lands
mentioned in the Secretary's notice embracing the bed of the river,
the shorelands, and the designated uplands including school
Lands acquired by purchase or condemnation.
contend that exclusive jurisdiction as to these lands vested
in the Federal Government by the operation of
Clause 17, § 8, Article 1, of the Federal Constitution, which
provides that the Congress shall have power "To exercise exclusive
"all Places purchased by the consent of the Legislature of the
State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, Dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings."
Considering this provision in James v. Dravo Contracting
we construed the phrase "other needful Buildings"
to embrace locks and dams and whatever structures are found to be
necessary in the performance of the functions of the Federal
Government. We also concluded that Clause 17 should not be
construed as implying a stipulation that the consent of the State
to purchases must be without reservations. We were unable to
reconcile such an implication with the freedom of the State and
Page 302 U. S. 204
admitted authority to refuse or qualify cessions of jurisdiction
when purchases have been made without consent or property has been
acquired by condemnation.
The statute of Washington which is relied upon as granting
consent and ceding exclusive jurisdiction to the Federal Government
is § 8108 of Remington's Revised Statutes, the full text of which
is quoted in the margin. [Footnote
] This statute gives consent to the acquisition of lands by
the United States
"for the sites of locks, dams, piers, breakwaters, keepers'
dwellings, and other necessary structures and purposes required in
the improvement of the rivers and harbors of this state, or
bordering thereon, or for the sites of forts, magazines, arsenals,
docks, navy-yards, naval stations, or other needful buildings
authorized by any act of congress."
The consent is said to be given in accordance with the
constitutional provision found in Clause 17 of § 8 of Article 1,
and with the Acts of Congress in such cases made and provided.
Page 302 U. S. 205
The statute, in terms, refers to such acquisition "from any
individual or individuals, bodies politic or corporate, within the
boundaries or limits of this state." This language is not apt to
describe acquisitions from the State itself. And, many years ago
(1903), the Supreme Court of the State so held with respect to the
corresponding provisions of the Acts of 1890, p. 459, and 1891, p.
31, embodied in § 8108. State ex rel. Bussell v. Callvert,
33 Wash. 380, 388-390, 74 P. 573. Under that construction, the
above-quoted provisions of § 8108 would be inapplicable to the
acquisition of title to the riverbed, shorelands, and uplands owned
by the State, apart from our conclusions in the light of the
proceedings taken under the United States Reclamation Act and the
pertinent state statute.
With respect to lands acquired from private owners, the Supreme
Court of the State has held in the instant case that the enterprise
of the Federal Government has a reach which takes it outside the
purview of § 8108. The pith of the decision is that, while the
statute contemplated the building of locks and dams and other
Page 302 U. S. 206
required in the improvement of the rivers and harbors of the
State, it did not contemplate the yielding by the all legislative
authority in connection with such a project as the Columbia Basin
Project embracing "the development of irrigation and of power for
industrial purposes." The state court concluded
"that the purposes of the project, taken as a whole, do not fall
exclusively within any of the enumerated classes mentioned above
[in the statute], so as to give the United States exclusive
jurisdiction over the lands, but rather in a class where several
purposes are so intermingled as to call for the exercise of
jurisdiction by both the federal government and the state,
according as their respective interests and duties require."
Ryan v. State, supra,
Considering the scope of the federal undertaking, we cannot say
that this construction of § 8108 is inadmissible. Thus, irrigation
-- "the reclamation of arid and semi-arid lands" -- is an integral
part of the federal plan, and the reservoirs for the storage of
water were to be provided with that end in view. That was set forth
as one of the main objectives, as well as the development of power,
in the Declaration of Taking filed in the federal court in the
condemnation proceedings, and, whatever may be said of power
development so far as it is incidental to the improvement of
navigation, the reclamation of arid or semiarid lands has always
been regarded as a project which carried with it an appropriate
recognition of a continued state jurisdiction. Kansas v.
Colorado, supra; Nebraska v. Wyoming, supra.
We cannot say
that the state statute, enacted in 1891, must be taken as
conclusively showing an intent to yield exclusive jurisdiction in
such a case. Assuming that, because of the presence of the federal
question, we are at liberty to construe the statute for ourselves,
we should, in harmony with our principles of decision in such
cases, give great weight to the views of
Page 302 U. S. 207
the state court as to the intent and limitations of the state
statute in granting consent and cession. See Freeport Water Co.
v. Freeport, 180 U. S. 587
180 U. S.
-596; Milwaukee Electric Ry. & L. Co. v.
Railroad Commission, 238 U. S. 174
238 U. S. 184
Phelps v. Board of Education, 300 U.
, 300 U. S. 322
Dodge v. Board of Education, ante,
p. 74. We should accept
that construction unless we are satisfied that it does violence to
federal right based upon the statute, defeating the reasonable
anticipation and purpose of securing through the operation of the
statute an essential and exclusive legislative authority for the
Not only do we find no violence done to federal right or
frustration of federal intent by the State's construction of its
statute, but the evidence is clear that the Federal Government
contemplated the continued existence of state jurisdiction
consistent with federal functions, and invited the cooperation of
the State in providing an appropriate exercise of local authority
over the territory.
Even if it were assumed that the state statute should be
construed to apply to the federal acquisitions here involved, we
should still be met by the contention of the Government that it was
not compelled to accept, and has not accepted, a transfer of
exclusive jurisdiction. As such a transfer rests upon a grant by
the State, through consent or cession, it follows, in accordance
with familiar principles applicable to grants, that the grant may
be accepted or declined. Acceptance may be presumed in the absence
of evidence of a contrary intent, but we know of no constitutional
principle which compels acceptance by the United States of an
exclusive jurisdiction contrary to its own conception of its
interests. The mere fact that the Government needs title to
property within the boundaries of a State, which may be acquired
irrespective of the consent of the State (Kohl v. United
States, 91 U. S. 367
91 U. S.
-372), does not necessitate the assumption by the
Page 302 U. S. 208
Government of the burdens incident to an exclusive jurisdiction.
We have frequently said that our system of government is a
practical adjustment by which the national authority may be
maintained in its full scope without unnecessary loss of local
efficiency. In acquiring property, the federal function in view may
be performed without disturbing the local administration in matters
which may still appropriately pertain to state authority. In our
opinion in James v. Dravo Contracting Company, supra,
observed that the possible importance of reserving to the State
jurisdiction for local purposes which involve no interference with
the performance of governmental functions is becoming more and more
clear as the activities of the Government expand and large areas
within the States are acquired. And we added that there appeared to
be no reason why the United States should be compelled to accept
exclusive jurisdiction, or the State be compelled to grant it in
giving its consent to purchases.
The federal intent in this instance is clearly shown. It is
shown not merely by the action of administrative officials, but by
the deliberate and ratifying action of Congress, which gives the
force of law to the prior official action even if unauthorized when
taken. Swayne & Hoyt, Ltd. v. United States,
300 U. S. 297
300 U. S.
-302. As Congress validated and ratified "all
contracts" which have been executed in connection with the Grand
Coulee Dam project, we are at liberty to refer to the terms of
these contracts as manifesting the intention of Congress no less
than that of the officers who executed them. These contracts with
appellants were made in full appreciation of the inevitable
creation, through the carrying out of this project, of a large
local community within the area acquired by the United States, with
residents whose needs could be suitably served by the
administration of the laws of the State without interfering in any
way with the execution of the
Page 302 U. S. 209
federal plan. School facilities were to be, and have been,
provided by arrangements with the local authorities. Police
protection was to be, and has been, assured by cooperation with the
State Patrol. Cognizance of crimes committed within the area has
been taken by local prosecutors and judicial officers. It is futile
to say that these local authorities became federal authorities
pro hac vice,
for the contracts which have been ratified
by Congress manifestly contemplated action by the local officers as
representatives of the State and as acting in the exercise of state
In particular, appellants' contracts assumed that state
jurisdiction would extend to activities of the contractors. They
were to obtain all required licenses and permits. Compensation
insurance under the laws of the State was to be provided for their
employees. State building regulations were to be obeyed. The rules
of the local Department of Health were to be observed in the
discharge of sewage into the river. We are at a loss to understand
how the continued jurisdiction of the State without conflicting
with federal operations could have been more fully recognized, or
the assumption of exclusive legislative authority by the United
States more effectively disclaimed, than by the action of Congress
in ratifying the provisions of these contracts.
Appellants' argument comes to this -- that we must not only
override the construction of the state statute by the state court,
but that we must construe the statute as compelling the Federal
Government to assume an exclusive legislative authority which it
did not need, which it has not accepted or exercised, and against
the burden of which it has sought to protect itself by securing
state cooperation in accordance with the express authorization of
Congress. We find no warrant for such action.
Indian tribal lands.
What has been said also disposes
of the contention in relation to this part of the area.
Page 302 U. S. 210
Appellants say that title was originally in the United States
for the benefit of Indians on the Colville Reservation. Executive
Order of July 2, 1872. While, at a later date, the lands were
opened for entry (Act March 22, 1906, 34 Stat. 80; Proclamation of
the President, May 3, 1916, 39 Stat. 1778), it appears that they
were withdrawn before any entry was made. Appellants concede that
title to these lands has always been in the United States, and
hence could not have been acquired by purchase or condemnation.
But, with respect to such lands, exclusive legislative authority
would be obtained by the United States only through cession by the
State. Surplus Trading Co. v. Cook, supra,
p. 281 U. S. 651
If they may be deemed to be within the reference in § 8108 to
"public land" which "may be set apart by the general government"
for the purposes "before mentioned," we are brought back to the
questions already discussed, and we need not consider the question
whether these lands had in fact been set apart in the prescribed
Our conclusion is that the State had territorial jurisdiction to
impose the tax upon appellants' receipts and that the tax does not
lay an unconstitutional burden upon the Federal Government.
The respective judgments are
MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS, MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND, MR. JUSTICE
BUTLER, and MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS dissent for the reasons stated in
the dissenting opinion in James v. Dravo Contracting Company,
* Together with No. 8, Ryan v. Washington et al.,
on appeal from the Supreme Court of Washington.
The Act describes the tax as laid "upon the privilege of
engaging in business activities." Section 2-a(1) provides:
". . . there is hereby levied, and there shall be collected from
every person engaging or continuing within this state in the
business of rendering or performing services . . . , an annual tax
or excise for the privilege of engaging in such business . . .
equal to the gross income of the business multiplied by the rate of
five-tenths of one percent. . . ."
Appellant David H. Ryan, in No. 8, also brought an action to
obtain a refund of occupation taxes which he had paid. That action
was consolidated for hearing in the state courts with the suit for
injunction to restrain further collection.
For administrative purposes and to avoid confusion with business
operations of the contractors elsewhere, the contractors organized
the appellant Mason-Walsh-Atkinson-Kier Company, and, to avoid
objections to an assignment of the contract, they entered into an
agreement with the United States in September, 1934, by which the
new company was constituted the agent of the contractors for the
prosecution of the work without relinquishment of their
"United States Department of the Interior"
"Office of the Secretary, Washington"
Jan. 4, 1934
"Bureau of Reclamation"
"Mails and Files, Jan. 5, 1934"
"State Commissioner of Public Lands,"
"Please take notice that, pursuant to the Act of Congress of
June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388) and acts amendatory thereof or
supplementary thereto, the United States intends to make
examinations and surveys for the utilization of the waters of
Columbia River and its tributaries in the development of the
proposed Columbia Basin Project."
"The foregoing notice is given pursuant to Section 3378 of
Pierce's Code (1929)."
"Please take further notice that attached hereto, identified as
'Exhibit A' and made a part hereof is a list of lands owned by the
State of Washington, over and upon which the United States requires
rights of way for canals, ditches, laterals, and sites for
reservoirs and structures appurtenant thereto, and such additional
rights of way and quantities of land as may be required for the
operation and maintenance of the completed works for the said
proposed Columbia Basin Project. Please file this notice, together
with the attached list, in your office, as a reservation from sale
or other disposition of such lands, so described, by the State of
"The notice last herein given is in pursuance of Section 3380 of
Pierce's Code (1929)."
"Very truly yours,"
"(Sgd.) T. A. WALTERS"
"First Assistant Secretary"
"§ 7410. Exemptions pending federal investigation.
Whenever the secretary of the interior of the United States, or any
officer of the United States duly authorized, shall notify the
commissioner of public lands of this state that, pursuant to the
provisions of the act of congress approved June 17, 1902, entitled,
'An act appropriating the receipts from the sale and disposal of
public lands in certain states and territories to the construction
of irrigation works for the reclamation of arid lands,' or any
amendment of said act or substitute therefor, the United States
intends to make examinations or surveys for the utilization of
certain specified waters, the waters so described shall not
thereafter be subject to appropriation under any law of this state
for a period of one year from and after the date of the receipt of
such notice by such commissioner of public lands; but such notice
shall not in any wise affect the appropriation of any water
theretofore in good faith initiated under any law of this state,
but such appropriation may be completed in accordance with the law
in the same manner and to the same extent as though such notice had
not been given. No adverse claim to any such waters initiated
subsequent to the receipt by the commissioner of public lands of
such notice shall be recognized, under the laws of this state,
except as to such amount of the waters described in such notice or
certificate hereinafter provided as may be formally released in
writing by a duly authorized officer of the United States. If the
said secretary of the interior or other duly authorized officer of
the United States shall, before the expiration of said period of
one year, certify in writing to the said commissioner of public
lands that the project contemplated in such notice appears to be
feasible and that the investigation will be made in detail, the
waters specified in such notice shall not be subject to
appropriation under any law of this state for the further period of
three years following the date or receipt of such certificate, and
such further time as the commissioner of public lands may grant,
upon application of the United States or some one of its authorized
officers and notice thereof first published once in each week for
four consecutive weeks in a newspaper published in the county where
the works for the utilization of such waters are to be constructed,
and if such works are to be in or extend into two or more counties,
then for the same period in a newspaper in each of such counties:
Provided, that in case such certificate shall not be filed with
said commissioner of public lands within the period of one year
herein limited therefor the waters specified in such notice shall,
after the expiration of said period of one year, become unaffected
by such notice and subject to appropriation as they would have been
had such notice never been given: And provided further, that in
case such certificate be filed within said one year and the United
States does not authorize the construction of works for the
utilization of such waters within said three years after the filing
of said certificate, then the waters specified in such notice and
certificate shall, after the expiration of said last named period
of three years, become unaffected by such notice or certificate and
subject to appropriation as they would have been had such notice
never been given and such certificate never filed."
"§ 7411. Appropriation -- Title to beds and shores.
Whenever said secretary of the interior or other duly authorized
officer of the United States shall cause to be let a contract for
the construction of any irrigation works or any works for the
storage of water for use in irrigation, or any portion or section
thereof, for which the withdrawal has been effected as provided in
section 7410, any authorized officer of the United States, either
in the name of the United States or in such name as may be
determined by the secretary of the interior, may appropriate, in
behalf of the United States, so much of the unappropriated waters
of the state as may be required for the project, or projects, for
which water has been withdrawn or reserved under the preceding
section of this act, including any and all divisions thereof,
theretofore constructed, in whole or in part, by the United States
or proposed to be thereafter constructed by the United States, such
appropriation to be made, maintained and perfected in the same
manner and to the same extent as though such appropriation had been
made by a private person, corporation or association, except that
the date of priority as to all rights under such appropriation in
behalf of the United States shall relate back to the date of the
first withdrawal or reservation of the waters so appropriated, and,
in case of filings on water previously withdrawn under said § 7410,
no payment of fees will be required. Such appropriation by or on
behalf of the United States shall inure to the United States and
its successors in interest in the same manner and to the same
extent as though said appropriation had been made by a private
person, corporation or association. The title to the beds and
shores of any navigable lake or stream utilized by the construction
of any reservoir or other irrigation works created or constructed
as a part of such appropriation hereinbefore in this section
provided for shall vest in the United States to the extent
necessary for the maintenance, operation, and control of such
reservoir or other irrigation works."
"§ 7412. Reservation of necessary lands by United States --
When the notice provided for in § 7410 shall be
given to the commissioner of public lands, the proper officers of
the United States may file with the said commissioner a list of
lands (including in the term 'lands' as here used, the beds and
shores of any lake, river, stream, or other waters) owned by the
state, over or upon which the United States may require rights of
way for canals, ditches, or laterals or sites for reservoirs and
structures therefor or appurtenant thereto, or such additional
rights of way and quantity of land as may be required for the
operation and maintenance of the completed works for the irrigation
project contemplated in such notice, and the filing of such list
shall constitute a reservation from the sale or other disposal by
the state of such lands so described, which reservation shall, upon
the completion of such works and upon the United States by its
proper officers filing with the commissioner of public lands of the
state a description of such lands by metes and bounds or other
definite description, ripen into a grant from the state to the
United States. The state, in the disposal of lands granted from the
United States to the state, shall reserve for the United States
rights of way for ditches, canals, laterals, telephone and
transmission lines which may be required by the United States for
the construction, operation and maintenance of irrigation
"§ 8108. Consent to acquisition of certain rights by United
The consent of the State of Washington be, and
the same is hereby, given to the acquisition by purchase or by
condemnation, under the laws of this state relating to the
appropriation of private property to public uses, by the United
States of America, or under the authority of the same, of any
tract, piece, or parcel of land, from any individual or
individuals, bodies politic or corporate, within the boundaries or
limits of this state, for the sites of locks, dams, piers,
breakwaters, keepers' dwellings, and other necessary structures and
purposes required in the improvement of the rivers and harbors of
this state, or bordering thereon, or for the sites of forts,
magazines, arsenals, docks, navy-yards, naval stations, or other
needful buildings authorized by any act of congress, and all deeds,
conveyances of title papers for the same shall be recorded as in
other cases, upon the land records of the county in which the land
so acquired may lie, and in like manner may be recorded a
sufficient description by metes and bounds, courses and distances,
of any tract or tracts, legal divisions or subdivisions of any
public land belonging to the United States, which may be set apart
by the general government for any or either of the purposes before
mentioned by an order, patent, or other official document or papers
describing such lands; the consent herein and hereby given being in
accordance with the seventeenth clause of the eighth section of the
first article of the Constitution of the United States, and with
the acts of congress in such cases made and provided, and the
jurisdiction of this state is hereby ceded to the United States of
America over all such land or lands as may have been or may be
hereafter acquired by purchase or by condemnation, or set apart by
the general government for any or either of the purposes before
mentioned: Provided, that this state shall retain a concurrent
jurisdiction with the United States in and over all tracts so
acquired or set apart as aforesaid, so far as that all civil and
criminal process that may issue under the authority of this state
against any person or persons charged with crimes committed, or for
any cause of action or suit accruing without the bounds of any such
tract, may be executed therein, in the same manner and with like
effect as though this assent and cession had not been granted."