MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
I. PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Plaintiffs, the State of Illinois, and relators Governor James Edgar and Attorney General James Ryan, brought an action against the cities of Chicago, Illinois and Gary, Indiana ("Cities"), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief under federal and state law. The State of Indiana, its Governor, Evan Bayh ("Indiana"), and the Chicago-Gary Regional Airport Authority ("Authority") filed a motion to intervene as parties-defendant in order to defend the constitutionality of an Indiana statute implicated by the complaint, which the court granted without objection. The Cities moved to dismiss the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to F.R.C.P. 12(b)(1) and to strike and/or for a more definite statement. Due to Indiana's entrance into the lawsuit, the court postponed a ruling on the Cities' motion and ordered the parties to file supplemental briefs on the issue of whether the court had lost its original jurisdiction in light of 28 U.S.C. § 1251, which grants to the Supreme Court original and exclusive jurisdiction over "all controversies between two states." The court now addresses all pending matters.
II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND
Article I, Section 10, Clause 3 of the United States Constitution states "No State shall . . . enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State . . .." This is known as the "Compact Clause."
In 1959, Congress enacted a law that authorizes states to enter into "an agreement, not in conflict with a law of the United States, with another state to develop or operate an airport facility." 73 Stat. 333 (1959); 49 U.S.C. § 44502(e) (1996). In 1963, Illinois enacted a law which authorizes a "governmental unit," including a city, "to combine in the creation of an airport authority for the purpose of jointly supporting and operating an airport terminal" with a city in another state once that state has enacted "reciprocal authorizing legislation." Interstate Airport Authority Act ("IAAA"), Ill. Laws 1963, p. 2121; 70 ILCS 10/2, 10/5 (1993). In 1980, Indiana enacted a law which mirrors the form and content of Illinois'. See Ind. Code 8-22-4-1 et seq. (1982).
In 1995, the Cities entered into an agreement entitled "Compact Between the City of Chicago and the City of Gary Relating to the Establishment of the Chicago-Gary Regional Airport Authority" ("RAAC"). The RAAC created the Chicago-Gary Regional Airport Authority and vests the Authority with the power
to jointly evaluate the Bi-State Region's need for additional Airport capacity, to jointly coordinate and plan for continued development, enhancement and operation of the Existing Airports and the development of any New Regional Airport serving the Bi-State Region and to assume the continued autonomous management and operation by the City of Chicago of the Chicago Airports and the continued autonomous management and operation by the City of Gary of the Gary Regional Airport.
RAAC § 5-5. The RAAC also permits the Cities, "through the Authority, to plan for any future additional airport capacity needed," id. § 5-10(f), giving the Authority the ability to "evaluate, plan, develop, secure permits, licenses and approvals for, acquire, finance, construct, equip, own, and operate new Regional Airport facilities." Id. § 20-10. The Authority may also enter all pertinent contracts, id. § 20-15, and appoint and discharge personnel "irrespective of the civil service, personnel or merit system laws of either the State of Illinois or the State of Indiana," Id. § 20-20.
Plaintiffs' complaint contains three counts. The first is entitled "Declaratory Judgment," and alleges that "the purported compact is invalid as a matter of federal law." Cmplt. P 29. It further alleges that "Defendants lack authority to enter into the purported compact," id. P 29(a), and that "neither the Compact Clause nor 49 U.S.C. § 44502(e) contemplates any role to be played by a political subdivision of a state in the creation of an interstate compact." Id. P 29(b). Count 1 also alleges that the RAAC is not a "valid interstate compact" because "the agreement provides for unilateral modification and termination."
The court interprets Count 1 to present two distinct claims. First, plaintiffs allege that the RAAC is void because cities -- as a general rule -- may not enter into interstate compacts; such authority belongs only to states as sovereigns. Second, plaintiffs allege that the RAAC is void because its obligations are illusory.
The remaining counts present state law claims and a request for relief. Count 2 is entitled "Quo Warranto." It requests that Chicago show "by what warrant it exercises the alleged right to enter into" the RAAC. Count 3, entitled "Injunction," seeks to prevent Chicago from making payments under the RAAC.
The Cities respond that plaintiffs' complaint does not allege a federal cause of action. Specifically, the Cities argue that plaintiffs have not raised a federal question, have not presented a "well-pleaded" complaint, and have not alleged sufficient facts to demonstrate that they have standing to prosecute any federal claim.
With regard to the court's concern over its original jurisdiction, none of the parties believe that the case properly belongs in front of the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the court must assure itself that jurisdiction properly lies in federal district court, despite the apparent consent of the parties. Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(h)(3); Commercial Nat'l Bank v. Demos, 18 F.3d 485, 487 (7th Cir. 1994). Therefore, the court turns first to the issue of its original jurisdiction.
III. ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
Title 28 U.S.C. § 1251(a) vests original and exclusive jurisdiction in the United States Supreme Court over "all controversies between two or more states," which "necessarily denies jurisdiction of such cases to any other federal court." Mississippi v. Louisiana, 506 U.S. 73, 78, 113 S. Ct. 549, 553, 121 L. Ed. 2d 466 (1993). In the present case, the caption places Illinois on the left and Indiana on the right; it appears that the requirements of § 1251 are satisfied.
However, § 1251(a) encompasses only those controversies in which "the complaining State has suffered a wrong through the action of the other State, furnishing grounds for judicial redress. . . ." Massachusetts v. Missouri, 308 U.S. 1, 15, 60 S. Ct. 39, 42, 84 L. Ed. 3 (1939). Moreover, the wrong suffered must be "directly caused by the actions of another State." Pennsylvania v. New Jersey, 426 U.S. 660, 663, 96 S. Ct. 2333, 2335, 49 L. Ed. 2d 124 (1976). Additionally, the claim must have the requisite "seriousness and dignity." Mississippi v. Louisiana, 506 U.S. 73, 113 S. Ct. 549, 553, 121 L. Ed. 2d 466 (1992). The model dispute fit for the Supreme Court's original and exclusive jurisdiction is one between two states of such seriousness and magnitude that it would amount to "casus belli" were the states fully sovereign. Id. at 77, 113 S. Ct. at 552 (determining that it had original and exclusive jurisdiction over a boundary dispute waged by two states, though it arose out of a lawsuit between private parties) (citing Texas v. New Mexico, 462 U.S. 554, 571 n.18, 103 S. Ct. 2558, 2569 n.18, 77 L. Ed. 2d 1 (1983)).
As previously noted, Indiana is present in the lawsuit to defend the constitutionality of its own regional airport authority statute. Despite Indiana's initial concern, plaintiffs have failed to press any constitutional attack. Though plaintiffs' "ultra vires" argument used the Compact Clause to attack indirectly the constitutionality of the IAAA (which, on its face, authorizes the allegedly "ultra vires" acts), plaintiffs' subsequent briefs fail to even cite -- let alone discuss the import of -- the IAAA. Due to plaintiffs' total failure to address the IAAA, the court has no choice but to deem the argument completely waived. Because the IAAA is no longer under constitutional attack, Indiana's reciprocal statute is similarly safe.
In its discretion, the court may drop a party from a lawsuit sua sponte whose presence no longer effects the issues being litigated. See Lampliter Dinner Theater, Inc. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 792 F.2d 1036, 1045 (11th Cir. 1986). Because Indiana no longer must defend the constitutionality of its statute, its presence in this lawsuit is no longer required. Therefore, Indiana is dropped as party-defendant pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 21.
This leaves only a controversy between Illinois and Indiana's governor, Evan Bayh. Bayh sought intervention pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 24(b)(2), which permits -- but does not mandate -- a court to allow the intervention of a state officer charged with administering a statute. The RAAC and Indiana law both authorize Bayh to appoint one member to the Authority's managing board. See RAAC § 15-5(a)(4); Ind. Code § 8-22-4-1(b).
The present controversy between Illinois and Bayh does not demand the attention of the Supreme Court because the Illinois' alleged injury does not arise from Bayh's actions. Illinois has not charged Bayh with any wrongdoing or usurpation. The complaint details no allegations of misconduct or ultra vires actions by Bayh; rather, it asserts broad theories of usurpation of authority by the Cities. His role in this lawsuit is to protect his interest in the Authority's continued existence. Cf. Ceres Gulf v. Cooper, 957 F.2d 1199, 1204 (5th Cir. 1992) (reversing denial of intervention by state officer who sought to protect his statutory authority to interpret and administer law). Bayh's presence does not alter the underlying allegations in this action, and the gravamen of the complaint remains the same: the Cities -- not Bayh -- usurped plaintiffs' authority.
Therefore, this action fails to present a "controversy between two states" of such "seriousness and dignity" so as to demand the Supreme Court's original and exclusive jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1251(a).
IV. MOTION TO DISMISS
A. Federal Question
The court now turns to the Cities' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and/or for a more definite statement.
The Cities assert a lack of subject matter jurisdiction as the basis for dismissal. They first argue that plaintiffs have not raised a federal question in Count 1. They invoke the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, which denies subject matter jurisdiction "over a case in which the complaint presents a state-law cause of action, but also asserts that federal law deprives the defendant of a defense he may raise." Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 10, 103 S. Ct. 2841, 2846, 77 L. Ed. 2d 420 (1983). Where a complaint shows only "that very likely, in the course of litigation, a question under the Constitution would arise, . . ." it does not allege a federal question without more. Louisville & Nashville Ry. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152, 29 S. Ct. 42, 43, 53 L. Ed. 126 (1908).
From the face of the complaint, it appears that plaintiffs have anticipated the Cities' use of the Compact Clause to support the validity of the RAAC. Paragraph 9 alleges "Defendants have maintained the position that . . . the purported Compact is authorized by and comprises federal law under the Interstate Compact Clause. . . ." Paragraph 28(b) asserts that this position is untrue. Therefore, it appears that the complaint "asserts that federal law deprives the defendant of a defense he may raise." See Franchise Tax Bd., 463 U.S. at 10, 103 S. Ct. at 2846.
However, in order to raise a federal question, the complaint simply must assert that a particular statute or constitutional provision affords the plaintiff relief. Health Cost Controls v. Skinner, 44 F.3d 535, 537 (7th Cir. 1995); see, e.g., Romero V. International Terminal Operating Co., 358 U.S. 354, 358, 79 S. Ct. 468, 473, 3 L. Ed. 2d 368 (1959) (finding presence of federal question due to mere assertion of relief under the Jones Act).
Read in its best light, Count 1 does present a federal question arising under the Compact Clause. As noted above, the complaint alleges that "The purported Compact is invalid as a matter of federal law," Complt. P 28, even though the complaint also states that the Cities will claim validity under the same constitutional provisions. Because plaintiffs seek relief under the Compact Clause, they have raised a federal question.
Nonetheless, the Cities challenge whether this claim raises a federal question on the grounds that plaintiffs have not alleged a recognized Compact Clause violation. This argument, however, goes to the legal sufficiency of the claim, not whether the claim, itself, presents a federal question. See Malak v. Associated Physicians, Inc., 784 F.2d 277, 281 (7th Cir. 1986) (determining challenge to subject matter jurisdiction actually to be one attacking merits of federal claim where defendants asserted that plaintiff failed to satisfy one element of cause of action). Thus, to the extent that the Cities' motion challenges the legal merits of plaintiffs' federal case, the court will construe it to be a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. Pro. 12(b)(6). In such a case, the court assumes as true all allegations in the complaint and turns to examine the legal sufficiency of those allegations. Health Cost Controls, 44 F.3d at 537; Malak, 784 F.2d at 279-80.
The Cities argue that plaintiffs fail to present a claim that falls within the purview of the Compact Clause. The Compact Clause prevents states from usurping federal power through collective efforts:
By vesting in Congress the power to grant or withhold consent, or to condition consent on the States' compliance with specified conditions, the Framers sought to ensure that Congress would maintain ultimate supervisory power over cooperative state action that might otherwise interfere with the full and free exercise of federal authority.