Characterization of Interstate Arrangements: When is a Compact Not a Compact

The real increase in the use of “compacts” is still very recent, so there has as yet been little significant litigation concerning these instruments. For this reason, relatively few lawyers have had sufficient exposure to the subject to discover what an unhappy state the law of “compacts” is in. However, if the present trend toward their increased use continues, interstate authorities and agencies founded upon “compacts” may be expected to become as familiar to the average lawyer as conventional governmental agencies are today. This article is not intended to anticipate all of the legal problems which are sure to arise in the judicial process of integrating this new device-or new employment of an ancient device-with the other elements of mid-twentieth century American federalism. It focuses on only the one most basic problem: the applicability to these interstate arrangements of the tenth section of the first article of the United States Constitution. It is to discourage the premature conclusion that all of these modem arrangements necessarily fall within the scope of that constitutional provision that the term “compact” is set in quotation marks. It is hoped that this technique will also suggest the inexactness of its common usage.