Response or Comment
Four and one-half centuries later the "sovereign state" of Virginia sued the "sovereign state" of West Virginia to recover a sum of money alleged to be due upon the agreement of West Virginia to assume its proportionate share of the debt of the old state of Virginia. The suit was brought in the Supreme Court of the United States, which after prolonged consideration rendered judgment for the plaintiff. No execution or other compulsory process was issued, however. But now after delays for various reasons and pretexts urged by West Virginia the court is compelled to face the problem of what if any compulsory powers it may exercise to enforce the judgment. In its opinion rendered April 22 of this year, the Supreme Court, when confronted with task of compelling, as did Parliament and the King's Justices of old, finds the matter apparently "too high." Virginia v. West Virginia, U. S. Supreme Court No. 2 Original, Oct. Term, 1917. No wonder the court is embarrassed. For the question is one which involves difficulties of theory and policy, and can scarcely be settled by legal principles and rules alone. At least though the case would be clear if between private parties, must not the court consider whether the character of the parties as well as circumstances may alter cases?
Bates, Henry M. "Power of the U.S. Supreme Court to Enforce Judgments Against States." Mich. L. Rev. 16 (1918): 617-21.