Kansas v. Colorado

LOCATION: Spendthrift Farm

DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)

CITATION: 514 US 673 (1995)
ARGUED: Mar 21, 1995
DECIDED: May 15, 1995

David W. Robbins - on behalf of the Defendant Colorado
John B. Draper - on behalf of the Plaintiff Kansas
Jeffrey P. Minear - on behalf of the United States

Facts of the case


Media for Kansas v. Colorado

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 21, 1995 in Kansas v. Colorado

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - May 15, 1995 in Kansas v. Colorado

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the court to announce the number 105, the State of Kansas v. the State of Colorado.

The Arkansas River rises on the east side of the Continental Divide in the Colorado mountains and flows at a steep gradient from its source south to Canon City, Colorado, whence it turns east and it flows to the Royal Gorge and then descends gradually through the high plains of Eastern Colorado and Western Kansas.

It then makes a great bend northward through Kansas, then bend south again, flows through Oklahoma and Arkansas and empties into the Mississippi river for a length of 1450 miles.

This river is unique in one aspect.

Its pronunciation changes as it goes from State to State.

When it rises in Colorado, it’s the Arkansas River; but when it flows through Kansas, it’s the Ar-KAN-sas River. Remember, when it goes through Oklahoma and Arkansas, it goes back to the Arkansas River.

In 1949, Kansas and Colorado entered into a compact designed to apportion the waters of the Arkansas River.

This original action involves the dispute among Kansas, Colorado and the United States over a claimed violations of the Arkansas River Compact.

The Special Master we appointed has filed a report detailing his findings and recommendations regarding the alleged violations of the compact.

We agree with the Special Mater’s disposition of he disputed issues and we overrule Kansas and Colorado's exceptions.

The opinion is unanimous.