Monday, May 2, 2011

New Supreme Court Opinion on Water Law

Today the Supreme Court released its opinion in the case Montana v. Wyoming.  This water law case presented the issue of whether, under the Yellowstone River Compact, an appropriator can use more efficient methods to disseminate water, so long as the appropriator uses the water to irrigate the same amount of acreage.  The Supreme Court held that it could even if changing watering methods would reduce the amount of return flow.

The Court upheld the decision of the Court appointed Special Master--Buzz Thompson--and the decision cites among others David Getches and Mark Squillace, and the great textbook by Sax, Thompson, Leshy and Abrams.

The Court's majority was made up of seven Justices, with Justice Scalia dissenting and Justice Kagan not taking part in the decision.  While I enjoyed seeing the names of law professors I respect in the opinion and enjoyed reading an opinion about water law, for me, the most memorable part of the opinion came from Justice Scalia's dissent when he refused to call the people of Wyoming Wyomingites and instead called them Wyomans.  He did this, because, as he put it, "the people of Wyoming deserve better."

A more detailed summary of the opinion can be found here on SCOTUSblog.

-- Brigham Daniels

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