Oral argument: Oct. 5, 2009
Original Jurisdiction: United States Supreme Court
WATER LAW, ORIGINAL JURISDICTION, INTERVENORS, EQUITABLE APPORTIONMENT
The dispute between the South Carolina and North Carolina concerns the equitable apportionment of the Catawba River. The Supreme Court is hearing the case under 28 U.S.C. § 1251, which provides it with original jurisdiction over disputes between states. The narrow issue that the Court will resolve is the right of non-state parties to intervene in litigation between South Carolina and North Carolina. South Carolina opposes the interventions, while North Carolina is in favor of them. Both parties argue their case using a standard the Court articulated in New Jersey v. New York, 345 U.S. 369 (1953). In that case, the Court ruled that in an equitable apportionment action between two States brought under the Court’s original jurisdiction, intervention by a non-state entity is proper only when the putative intervenor demonstrates a compelling interest in its own right, separate from the interests of either of the party states. South Carolina contends that the parties’ interests are insufficiently unique to satisfy the Court’s rule, while North Carolina and the intervenors contend that they have unique interests not represented by either South Carolina or North Carolina. The Court’s ruling will clarify the correct interpretation of the standard set forth in New Jersey v. New York.