RESPONDENT: North Carolina
LOCATION: City of Charlotte
DOCKET NO.: 138 ORIG
DECIDED BY: Roberts Court (2009-2010)
CITATION: 558 US 256 (2010)
GRANTED: Oct 01, 2007
ARGUED: Oct 13, 2009
DECIDED: Jan 20, 2010
Christopher G. Browning, Jr. - argued the cause for the defendant
David C. Frederick - argued the cause for the plaintiff
Eric D. Miller - Assistant to the Solicitor General, Department of Justice, for the United States as amicus curiae
H. Christopher Bartolomucci - on behalf of the intervenors
Facts of the case
This case originates in the Supreme Court. South Carolina seeks an equitable apportionment of the Catawba River, which starts in North Carolina and flows into South Carolina. The Special Master recommends that the Supreme Court (1) permit the City of Charlotte, N.C., the Catawba River Water Supply Project, and Duke Energy Carolinas LLC to intervene as defendants, and (2) deny South Carolina's motion for clarification of the Special Master's order.
Can the City of Charlotte, NC, the Catawba River Water Supply Project, and Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, which are non-state entities, be allowed to intervene as defendants in a case originating in the Supreme Court about a water dispute between two states?
Media for South Carolina v. North CarolinaAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - October 13, 2009 in South Carolina v. North Carolina
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - January 20, 2010 in South Carolina v. North Carolina
John G. Roberts, Jr.:
Justice Alito has our opinion this morning in case 138 on the original dockets South Carolina versus North Carolina.
Samuel A. Alito, Jr.:
This is an original action concerning the Catawba River and the matter now before us concern South Carolina's exceptions to the Special Master's First Interim Report.
The Special Master recommended that we granted motions of three non-state entities to intervene in this action.
They are the city of Charlotte, North Carolina the Catawba River water supply project and Duke Energy Carolinas.
We overrule South Carolina's exceptions with respect to the Catawba River water supply projects and Duke Energy Carolinas but we sustain South Carolina's exceptions with respect to the City of Charlotte.
We apply the standard for intervention by non-state entities in an original action that we announced nearly 60 years ago in New Jersey versus New York.
“An intervener whose state is already a party should have the burden of showing some compelling interest in his own right apart from his interest in a class with all other citizens and creatures of the state which interest is not properly represented by the state.”
For the reasons set out more fully in our opinion we find that the Catawba River water supply projects and Duke Energy Carolinas have carried this burden but that the city of Charlotte has not.
The Catawba River water supply project is an unusual by state entity that supplies water to consumers in both states is jointly operated and funded by authorities in both states and is not properly represented by either state in this litigation.
Duke Energy Carolinas operates a series of 11 dams on the Catawba River in both states and in accordance with the terms and its license issued by the Federal energy regulatory commission controls the Catawba River’s minimum flow into South Carolina.
Neither state properly represents these interests.
Like the Catawba River water supply project the city of Charlotte transfers water from the Catawba River basin, those transfers however fall solely within North Carolina's equitable share of the river and North Carolina properly represents the city's interests in this litigation.
Chief Justice has filed an opinion concurring in the judgment in part and dissenting in part in which Justices Thomas, Ginsberg and Sotomayor have joined.