KENTUCKY V. INDIANA, 281 U. S. 163 (1930)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Kentucky v. Indiana, 281 U.S. 163 (1930)

Kentucky v. Indiana

No. 16, Original

Argued March 3, 4, 1930

Decided April 14, 1930

281 U.S. 163


Kentucky sued Indiana in this Court on a contract between them for the building, with the consent of Congress, of a bridge across the Ohio River. Certain individuals, who were citizens, voters and taxpayers of Indiana and who had brought a suit in an Indiana court to restrain its officers from performing the contract upon the ground that it was unauthorized by the law of Indiana and

Page 281 U. S. 164

void, were joined as defendants in Kentucky's bill. The bill prayed for a decree requiring Indiana to specifically perform the contract and enjoining the individuals from prosecuting their suit. The individuals contested the jurisdiction of this Court and the validity of the contract. But Indiana admitted its validity and averred her desire to perform it, setting up as her only excuse for delay the litigation in the Indiana court and her unwillingness to proceed until there had been a final adjudication establishing her right to perform, adding that, if this Court should grant the relief prayed against her by Kentucky, she would proceed immediately to perform the contract.


1. That a controversy between the two states is presented, within the original jurisdiction of this Court. P. 281 U. S. 173.

2. A state sued in this Court by virtue of the original jurisdiction over controversies between states must be deemed to represent all its citizens, and its appropriate appearance here by its proper officers is conclusive upon that point. Id.

3. Citizens, voters and taxpayers of a state, merely as such and without showing any further or proper interest, have no separate, individual right to contest in such a suit the position taken by the state itself. Id.

4. An individual citizen may be made a party where relief is properly sought against him in a suit between states, and, in such case, he should have opportunity to show the nature of his interest and why the relief asked against him individually should not be granted. Id.

5. In the present instance, since the individuals have no interest with respect to the contract or its performance other than that of citizens and taxpayers generally of Indiana, and since they were joined as defendants merely for relief against them incidental to the relief sought by the plaintiff against the defendant state, they have no standing to litigate the validity and enforceability of the contract as between the states. P. 281 U. S. 174.

6. Inasmuch as a decree of this Court in this suit would bind the State of Indiana and, on being shown, would bar any inconsistent proceedings in her courts, no sufficient ground appears for maintaining the bill against the individual defendants, and it should be dismissed as against them. P. 281 U. S. 175.

7. If, in accordance with the pleading of each state, the contract be deemed authorized and valid, the mere pendency of the suit by citizens to restrain its performance does not constitute a defense. P. 281 U. S. 176.

Page 519 U. S. 165

8. Where states are before this Court for the determination of a controversy between them, the Court must pass upon every question essential to such determination, although local legislation and questions of state authorization may be involved. P. 281 U. S. 176.

9. It being conceded by the parties that performance of the contract is a matter of grave interest to the two states and to the public, and that delay is causing irreparable injury to Kentucky not remediable at law, postponement of decision merely that this Court might have the advantage of a decision by the Indiana court in the suit of the Indiana citizens would not be justified. P. 281 U. S. 177.

10. Upon the record in this case, it is unnecessary for the Court to search the legislation underlying the contract in order to discover grounds of defense which the defendant state does not attempt to assert. P. 281 U. S. 178.

Bill dismissed as to individual defendants.

Decree for plaintiff against defendant state.

Final hearing, upon the pleadings and an agreed statement of facts, of a suit by Kentucky for specific performance by Indiana of a contract between them to build a bridge, and for an injunction to restrain individual defendants from prosecuting litigation in Indiana impeding the performance of the contract by that state.

Page 519 U. S. 169

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