Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas

RESPONDENT: Nebraska ex rel. Douglas
LOCATION: Minnesota State Capitol Building

DOCKET NO.: 81-613
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: Nebraska Supreme Court

CITATION: 458 US 941 (1982)
ARGUED: Mar 30, 1982
DECIDED: Jul 02, 1982

George Roderic Anderson - on behalf of the Appellee
Richard A. Dudden - on behalf of the Appellants

Facts of the case


Media for Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 30, 1982 in Sporhase v. Nebraska ex rel. Douglas

Warren E. Burger:

We will hear arguments first this morning in Sporhase and Moss against Nebraska.

Mr. Dudden, you may proceed whenever you are ready.

Richard A. Dudden:

Thank you, Your Honor.

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court:

We bring before you this morning a constitutional law question involving the commerce clause.

Nebraska's law prohibits the transportation of water into another state unless that state has reciprocal legislation.

Colorado has no reciprocal legislation.

In 1971 the Nebraska Department of Water Resources issued a well registration number for the well that is in question today.

This registration filing noted on its face that the land in Colorado was to be irrigated.

The well was then used by the Appellants' predecessors to irrigate the agricultural land in Nebraska.

But later on in 1971, the Appellants purchased this land from their predecessors and renewed their intentions to irrigate the Colorado land.

They obtained approval to proceed from the manager of the local water management district.

This approval included the conveyance of water by pipeline from the well located in Nebraska to the Appellants' adjacent land in Colorado.

The well itself is located only a few feet from the Colorado state line.

If you were to look on page 112 of the joint appendix, there is a map that would show you the location of the real estate involved and the proximity of the well to the State of Colorado.

How deep is the well?

Richard A. Dudden:

The well is approximately 300 feet deep, Your Honor.

How expensive to put it in?

Richard A. Dudden:

Mr. Justice White, the--

Is that in the record?

Richard A. Dudden:

--It is in the record, but I can answer that question.

He expended approximately $45,000 for the installation of the underground pipe and the installation of the pivot sprinkler irrigation equipment.

I suppose if he had put it six feet on the other side of line, he'd have had the same problem, I suppose?

Richard A. Dudden:

Yes, he would, Your Honor, because when you use a pivot sprinkler irrigation system you pipe approximately 1300 feet to the center of the field.

But he would have the same exportation problem.

Richard A. Dudden:

Into Nebraska?


Richard A. Dudden:

Yes, Your Honor.

Colorado has an absolute prohibition from transporting water into Nebraska.

Do you think Colorado's absolute prohibition is less vulnerable to commerce clause attack than Nebraska's?