Arizona v. California

RESPONDENT: California
LOCATION: Bleckly County Superior Court

DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)

CITATION: 460 US 605 (1983)
ARGUED: Dec 08, 1982
DECIDED: Mar 30, 1983

Carl Boronkay - on behalf of State Parties
Lawrence A. Aschenbrenner - on behalf of Indian Tribes
Louis F. Claiborne - on behalf of the United States
Ralph Hunsaker - on behalf of State Parties

Facts of the case


Media for Arizona v. California

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - December 08, 1982 in Arizona v. California

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - March 30, 1983 in Arizona v. California

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 8 Original, State of Arizona against the State of California will be announced by Mr. Justice White.

Byron R. White:

This -- this case began way back in 1952 when Arizona filed a motion for -- leave to file as a case against California to settle the respective shares of the Lower Basin States in the Colorado River.

We appointed a Special Master who took evidence for several years and filed a massive report.

The case was argued twice and finally opinion was announced in 1963 and a decree entered in 1964.

That decree settled the amount of water that the Upper Basin States were to deliver to the Lower and also settled the shares of the Lower Basin States among themselves.

The decree also determined the water rights of the Indian reservations in the Lower -- in the Lower Basin.

The -- we retained jurisdiction, however, for various reasons among others because the so-called presently perfected rights that would have priority had not yet been determine.

Also, there were boundary disputes about the Indian reservations that still have to be finally determined.

In 1979, we amended the decree when they -- when the presently -- present perfected rights have been determined.

But meanwhile, the Indian tribes and later the United States moved to reopen the proceedings in two respects.

First, it was alleged that in the proceedings leading up to the 1964 decree, the -- a fair amount of irrigable acreage had been mistakenly overlooked and that the -- then additional water rights were -- should be allocated to the reservations.

Secondly, it was said that the boundary disputes had been finally determined and that the -- the -- there was a good deal additional territory to be included in the Indian reservations and hence more water to be allocated.

We appointed a Special Master who took a testimony and took up -- who heard the case and he recommended that in almost all respects the -- that we accept the claims of the tribes in the -- in the United States.

Exceptions were filed and briefed and -- and argued.

And now for the reasons stated in an opinion on file with the clerk, we sustain the exceptions of the -- of the States.

We hold that the irrigable acreage issue was fully litigated and finally determined in the 1964 decree and was not subject to relitigation.

Secondly, with some minor exception or two, we hold that because litigation is still pending with respect to the boundary disputes those boundaries have not yet been finally determined.

Accordingly, we sustain the exception of the States.

Justice Brennan joined by Justices Blackmun and Stevens has filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice Marshall took no part in the determination or consideration of the case.

Warren E. Burger:

Thank you Justice White.