Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Sonya F. Palay


After nearly a century of negotiations among the Great Lakes states, tribes, and provinces, a promising new agreement was recently ratified by the parties and recognized by Congress, this is the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. Interstate compacts, may serve as a particularly useful tool for solving regional environmental problems, which the federal government lacks the interest to resolve. However, due to constitutional strictures, interstate compacts are not binding unless Congress grants consent to the compact. This Note focuses on the recent Great Lakes Compact as a means to examine the current state of the law surrounding the Compact Clause of the United States Constitution.

The author argues that while compacting states have a myriad of arguments at their disposal that Congress has impliedly consented to a compact, the most prudent path is to have Congress formally adopt the compact as federal law by explicitly consenting to it. In coming to this conclusion, the Note examines the history of the Compact Clause of the Constitution as well as prior attempt by the Great Lakes states to enter into agreements.