The word compact is used in the "Compact clause" of the Constitution of the United States: "No State shall, without the Consent of Congress [...] enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State [...]" (U.S. Constitution, article one, section 10, clause 3) and a few questions refer to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

  • Is there case law discussing whether the Compact clause wording construes the compact as the equivalent of an agreement or something different and if so what does it essentially say?
  • Is the dictionary definition ("a formal agreement between two or more parties, states, etc.; contract", Dictionary.com) too precise or too generic to accurately represent what the compact is in article one, section 10, clause 3?
  • Is the word compact typical 18th century legal terminology in the U.S.?
  • Why are you focused on Common Law? US or not, Common Law is domestic law. The Global Compact for Migration is international law. And in that context, there has been a previous "United Nations Global Compact" (not on Migration) which is also acknowledged to be not legally binding.
    – MSalters
    Dec 2, 2018 at 0:52
  • 1
    " I'm focused on the Common Law tradition, not domestic law". That does not make sense. Domestic law is the umbrella term for law systems within a single country, so there are 200 different domestic law systems. Some of those 200 domestic law systems are Common Law, others are not, but every Common Law system is domestic. International Law is fundamentally opposite to domestic law, so you are confusing two very unrelated law systems.
    – MSalters
    Dec 3, 2018 at 10:38
  • I gave some thought to your comments and I have split the question along the lines of the functional divide you explained, even though it is actually the connection or comparative between the answers for all these questions which interests me the most. Thank you! @MSalters
    – user2822
    Dec 5, 2018 at 7:03

1 Answer 1


In Virginia v. Tennessee, 148 U.S. 503 (1893):

Compacts or agreements -- and we do not perceive any difference in the meaning, except that the word "compact" is generally used with reference to more formal and serious engagements than is usually implied in the term "agreement" -- cover all stipulations affecting the conduct or claims of the parties.

  • Thank you, has that been followed since 1893 without further discussion? Would you say the quote you provided is part of the ratio of the case?
    – user2822
    Jan 5, 2019 at 6:19

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