San Antonio/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 24, 2024
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton Challenges SCOTUS Decision Over Rio Grande Water RightsSource: Google Street View

Texas is once again at the heart of a legal skirmish over the waters of the Rio Grande. This time, Attorney General Ken Paxton has taken his grievances public, responding to a recent Supreme Court decision that places the federal government squarely in the middle of what was to be an interstate agreement. Texas had reached a consensus with New Mexico and Colorado to end a long-standing dispute over water distribution from the Rio Grande, a pact supported by a Special Master appointed by the Court. Paxton expressed his disappointment, arguing that the Court's choice hands over undue power to the federal administration. "I am disappointed that a narrow majority of the Supreme Court has unfortunately and incorrectly granted the federal government even more power over the States," Paxton said in a statement.

The 5-4 ruling dismisses the three-state agreement, despite the Special Master's acknowledgment that the Consent Decree sought by Texas seemed a likely superior resolution after nearly a decade of litigation. Yet, the Biden Administration raised objections, claiming the right to veto the state-level resolution. In a dissent, Justice Neil Gorsuch highlighted the deviation from precedent, stating, "It defies 100 years of this Court’s water law jurisprudence." Paxton has vowed to push forward to protect what he sees are the rights of Texas farmers reliant on the contested water resources.

The Supreme Court's decision represents a critical turning point in the multi-state water rights saga that began with Texas' 2013 lawsuit against New Mexico. The contention revolved around the proper apportionment of the Rio Grande's waters, as stipulated in the 1938 Rio Grande Compact. For years, these states have sought to balance agricultural needs with legal obligations, a balance thrown once more into uncertainty with the Court's latest ruling.

As both sides gear up for the next phase of litigation, the impact of the Court's decision on Texas farmers hangs in the balance. Paxton remains firm in his commitment to the state's agricultural interests, underscoring an ongoing contention between state sovereignty and federal oversight in resource disputes. "We will continue to work to ensure that rights of Texas farmers are protected during the next steps of the process," assured Paxton as Texas prepares to navigate the turbulent legal waters ahead.