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Scalia praises Idaho’s Snake River Basin water rights adjudication

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking in Boise on Monday evening, praised Idaho's completion of a nearly 30-year process negotiating Snake River Basin water rights as a successful exercise in state rights and local control. “Adjudication serves a noble purpose,” he said. “It lets people of Idaho know just what they own. Everything from farming to fishing to mining and manufacturing requires water. Each of these will go smoothly now that they know what they own.”

The adjudication completion doesn't eliminate future disputes, but provides a guideline for what people might fight over in the future, Scalia said. Water law attorneys have processed more than 158,000 water rights claims. This has allowed thousands of farmers, dairies and fish processors to have a comprehensive record of state, federal and tribal water rights. Scalia was the keynote speaker at Monday's event in Boise marking the end of the largest ever adjudication review settling water ownership throughout nearly 85 percent of the Gem State; with the Snake River Basin Adjudication complete, Idaho has now begun adjudicating water rights in North Idaho.

Scalia to speak in Boise at SRBA conference

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia will be the keynote speaker Monday night at a conference marking the conclusion of the Snake River Basin Adjudication process. Scalia will speak at a sold-out 7 p.m. dinner at the Boise Centre on the Grove that also will include the formal signing of the SRBA decree; the banquet and 6 p.m. reception will close out a full-day conference sponsored by the Idaho Supreme Court, the University of Idaho College of Law and the Kempthorne Institute to mark the conclusion of the SRBA process. Nationally known water law experts will discuss the adjudication and related issues throughout the West.

The conference will continue Tuesday morning with a water policy panel hosted by former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, who also is a former U.S. secretary of the interior and former U.S. senator. The 8 a.m. panel on Tuesday at the Centre on the Grove, moderated by Rocky Barker, will include panelists Chief Allan, chairman of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe; Michael Bogert, former counselor to the Secretary of the Interior; Mike Connor, current deputy Secretary of the Interior;  former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig; Rebecca Miles, former chair of the Nez Perce Tribe; Bob Iacullo, executive vice president of United Water; former Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski; and former Mexican ambassador to the United States Arturo Sarukhan. There’s more info here and here; the Idaho Statesman has a full report here.

Scalia: Supreme Court too activist

BOZEMAN – The U.S. Supreme Court is making decisions that should be left to Congress or the people, from wiretapping to “inventing” new classes of minorities, Justice Antonin Scalia said this week.

In an apparent reference to the court’s recent decisions on gay marriage and benefits for same-sex couples, Scalia said it is not the function of the courts to create exceptions outside the Constitution unless a majority of people agree with them.

“It’s not up to the courts to invent new minorities that get special protections,” Scalia said before more than 300 people in a hotel ballroom in Bozeman. It was a gathering sponsored by the Federalist Society, which he helped launch more than 30 years ago to fight the perception of liberal bias at the nation’s law schools. More here.

Do you agree or disagree with Justice Scalia that the Supreme Court is too activist?