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U.S. Supreme Court

Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co., 206 U.S. 230 (1907)

Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Company

No. 5, Original

Argued February 25, 26, 1907

Decided May 13, 1907

206 U.S. 230


When the states by their union made the forcible abatement of outside nuisances impossible to each, they did not thereby agree to submit to whatever might be done. They retained the right to make reasonable demands on the grounds of their still remaining quasi-sovereign interests, and the alternative to force a suit in this Court.

This Court has jurisdiction to, and at the suit of a state will, enjoin a corporation, citizen of another state, from discharging over its territory noxious fumes from works in another state where it appears that those fumes cause and threaten damage on a considerable scale to the forests and vegetable life, if not to health, within the plaintiff's state.

A suit brought by a state to enjoin a corporation having its work in another state from discharging noxious gases over its territory is not the same as one between private parties, and although the elements which would form the basis of relief between private parties are wanting, the state can maintain the suit for injury in a capacity as quasi-sovereign, in which capacity it has an interest independent of and behind its citizens in all the earth and air within its domain, and whether insisting upon bringing such a suit results in more harm than good to its citizen, many of whom may profit through the maintenance of the works causing the nuisance, is for the state itself to determine.

The facts are stated in the opinion.

Page 206 U. S. 236

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