THE LAW: Treaty's Limit

When the New York State Power Authority applied last fall for permission to build a long-delayed $600 million hydroelectric complex near Niagara Falls, the Federal Power Commission refused to consider the application, claimed that it had no jurisdiction. Reason: the U.S. Senate, in ratifying the 1950 U.S.-Canadian treaty on Niagara River water development rights, had tacked on a "reservation" rider forbidding any project-building not "specifically authorized by Act of Congress."

The FPC stand raised a constitutional question: Under the U.S. three-branch system of government, can the U.S. Senate impose domestic conditions on its consent to international agreements negotiated by...

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