COM. OF VIRGINIA v. STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA(1913)
Mr. Samuel W. Williams, Attorney General of Virginia, and Messrs. Randolph Harrison, William A. Anderson, and John B. Moon for the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Messrs. Holmes Conrad and Sanford Robinson, for the bondholding creditors.
Mr. A. A. Lilly, Attorney General of West Virginia, and Messrs.
V. B. Archer, Charles E. Hogg, and John H. Holt for the state of West Virginia.
Mr. Chief Justice White delivered the opinion of the court:
In March, 1911 (Virginia v. West Virginia, 220 U.S. 1 , 55 L. ed. 353, 31 Sup. Ct. Rep. 330), our decision was given 'with respect to the basis of liability and the share of the principal of the debt of Virginia that West Virginia assumed.' In view, however, of the [231 U.S. 89, 90] nature of the controversy, of the consideration due the respective states, and the hope that by agreement between them further judicial action might be unnecessary, we postponed proceeding to a final decree, and left open the question of what, if any, interest was due, and the rate thereof, as well as the right to suggest any mere clerical error which it was deemed might have been committed in fixing the sum found to be due upon the basis of liability which was settled. In October, 1911, we overruled without prejudice a motion made by Virginia to proceed at once to a final determination of the cause on the ground that there was no reasonable hope of an amicable adjustment. Virginia v. West Virginia, 222 U.S. 17 , 56 L. ed. 71, 32 Sup. Ct. Rep. 4.
The motion on behalf of the state of Virginia now before us is virtually a reiteration of the former motion to proceed, and is based upon the ground that certain negotiations which have taken place between the Virginia Debt Commission representing Virginia, and a commission representing West Virginia, appointed in virtue of a joint resolution of the legislature of that state, adopted in 1913, make it indubitably certain that no hope of an adjustment exists. But without reviewing the course of the negotiations relied upon, we think it suffices to say that, in resisting the motion, the attorney general of West Virginia, on behalf of that state, insists that the view taken by Virginia of the negotiations is a misapprehension of the purposes of West Virginia, as that state, since the appointment of the commission on its behalf, has been relying upon that commission 'to consummate such an adjustment and settlement of said controversy as to commend the result of its negotiations to the favorable consideration of the governor and the legislative branch of its government, and thus terminate said controversy, to the satisfaction of her people and the commonwealth of Virginia, and upon the principles of honor and justice to both states, and in fairness to the holders of the debt [231 U.S. 89, 91] for whose benefit this controversy is still pending.' The attorney general further stating that, in order to accomplish the results just mentioned, a subcommittee of the Commission of West Virginia has been and is engaged in investigating the whole subject with the purpose of preparing a proposition to be submitted to the Virginia Debt Commission, to finally settle the whole matter, and that a period of six months' time is necessary to enable the committee to complete its labors.
Having regard to these representations, we think we ought not to grant the motion to proceed at once to consider and determine the cause, but should, as near as we can do so consistently with justice, comply with the request made for further time to enable the commissioners of West Virginia to complete the work which we are assured they are now engaged in performing for the purpose of effecting a settlement of the controversy. As, however, the granting of six months' delay would necessitate carrying the case possibly over to the next term, and therefore be in all probability an extension of time of more than a year, we shall reduce somewhat the time asked, and direct that the case be assigned for final hearing on the 13th day of April next, at the head of the call for that day.