MISSOURI v. HOLLAND
In December 1916, the United States and Great Britain entered into a treaty to protect a number of migratory birds in the U.S. and Canada. Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 in order to facilitate enforcement of the treaty. When Ray P. Holland, the U.S. Game Warden, threatened to arrest citizens of Missouri for violating the Act, the state of Missouri challenged the treaty.
Did the treaty infringe upon rights reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment?
Legal provision: Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918; US Const. Amend 10
No. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the national interest in protecting the wildlife could be protected only by national action. The Court noted that the birds the government sought to protect had no permanent habitats within individual states and argued that "[b]ut for the treaty and the statute there soon might be no birds for any powers to deal with." The Court thus upheld the exercise of the treaty power and thus found no violation of the Tenth Amendment.