Tag Archives: U.S Supreme Court

Coming Water Wars, City-to-City, State-to-State

New Orleans  Everyone is watching the U.S. Supreme Court for key decisions this term around race, gay rights, and other issues, but their rejection of claims from Tarrant County, Texas where Fort Worth is located in the sprawling metroplex of north Texas, on any water from Oklahoma as part of the Red River Compact, may signal the coming American “water wars” that could dominate many areas in the 21st Century and literally make or break entire cities.   In this case an Oklahoma law prohibiting supplying water to out-of-state applicants was upheld, asserting a state’s rights to regulate its water over any rights claimed as part of a congressionally approved allocation system like the Red River Compact.  In the midst of a terrible drought now this is a blow to the almost 2 million users served by the Tarrant Regional Water District, and as significantly could lead to restrictions on future development in the area without access to sufficient water.

            Fort Worth is not alone.  Atlanta is already gulping for water having passed on a small investment that would have given it water rights many decades ago and now barred from access to these sources after years of losing litigation.  And, we’re not talking about Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas that have been tackling this problem for years with different levels of failure and success.  

            Earlier this year I read with great interest The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water by Austin-based, ex-Fortune writer, Charles Fishman.  I had found his book on Walmart many years ago helpful in organizing and had talked to him at the time. After visiting Atlanta in January I was surprised and intrigued to stumble on the water crisis in that city.   The book was helpful in getting my arms around the coming crises nationally here.

            Years ago, when we were successfully fighting the privatization of the New Orleans Sewerage & Water Board the companies all derided questions about whether or not private companies were seeking access to our great water surplus from the Mississippi River to export to other cities and states.  If we had a Governor not trying to run quixotically for President and a Mayor with enough vision to look past his next election, there would be real work in seeing in our broke-ass part of the country whether or not there might be a way to successfully commodify our surplus water capacity so that we might relieve the problems of cities within 8-9 hours drive like Atlanta and the Dallas/Fort Worth area.

            Make no mistake water, sewer, and all of attendant issues with both of them in our cities are going to be dominant issues in the coming decades.  No one can live without water and the notion that each area can bottle up the resource and restrict it just to the home folks, as the Supreme Court has just ruled, is a game changer.


Roberts to Obama: Don’t Enforce Laws You Don’t Like!

Little Rock  Reading the reports of the arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was bizarre for an array of reasons, but one exchange initiated by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts was amazing and to my lights an open invitation to President Barack Obama in the executive branch to defy virtually any law at will that the President thought might be unconstitutional.  WTF?!?

According to the New York Times:

“He [Chief Justice Roberts] expressed irritation that the case was before the court, saying President Obama’s approach – to enforce the law but not defend it – was a contradiction.  ‘I don’t see why he doesn’t have the courage of his convictions,’ the chief justice said.  He said Mr. Obama should have stopped enforcing a statute that he viewed as unconstitutional’ rather than saying, ‘Oh, we’ll wait till the Supreme Court tells us we have no choice.’”  The White House too umbrage at the remark and said the president was upholding his constitutional duty to execute the laws until the Supreme Court rules otherwise.”

Wow!  Was the uber-conservative Chief Justice Roberts really issuing carte blanc to the President to go wild in the streets and refuse to enforce the law?!?  This is a fella who doesn’t won’t to break a sweat on his day job!  The old “separation of powers” thing, who cares, says the Chief Justice, “Be a man, Barack, do you thing, and we’ll clean up the mess later, if anyone notices or cares.”  Furthermore, “Oh, that little oath thing I administered to you a couple of months ago…now you see why I messed it up the first time around, what does that stuff mean anyway?  Boring!”  We now have an anarchist for Chief Justice.  Depending on who might be president, it’s like a dream come true or a least a new reality show, “Pick a Law, Break a Law!”

Here’s one.  This whole deportation thing is totally out of control.  Obama has been on steroids pushing potential undocumented workers and their families out of the country even as various Senators are reporting an immigration reform bill that they say is 90% finished.  We could all make a long list.

Something as crazy as DOMA, must just bring out the loco in everyone who has to deal with it, and now the bug seems to have bitten the boss, Chief Justice Roberts of the Supremes.  Who knows what might happen in DC next?!?