Update to Breaking News: United States’ Brief in Texas v. New Mexico

**This article is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.**

As mentioned yesterday, the Solicitor General filed a brief in the Supreme Court case between Texas and New Mexico.  A copy of the brief can be found here.

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In the brief, Solicitor General takes the position that the Court should grant Texas’ Motion and allow the complaint to be filed because Texas “alleges an interstate dispute of sufficient importance to warrant this Court’s exercise of its original jurisdiction…”  Further, the Solicitor General believes that “Texas has adequately pled an injury to its sovereign rights under a reasonable interpretation of the Compact.”

The brief goes on, however, to encourage the Court to allow for the parties to resolve potentially dispositive issues early on through a motion to dismiss, which “could significantly facilitate disposition of this controversy.”  The approach advocated by the Solicitor General is to grant Texas’ motion to file a complaint, but prior to referring the case to a Special Master (the common next step in these type of cases) to allow New Mexico the chance to file a motion to dismiss to be decided by the Supreme Court.

Additionally, the Solicitor General addressed the merits of Texas’ arguments, including agreeing with Texas that New Mexico’s obligation is not merely to deliver water to Elephant Butte and taking the position that New Mexico’s argument to that point would violate the intent and purpose of the Compact.  “If New Mexico’s only obligation under the Compact were to deliver water to Elephant Butte, and if New Mexico were then free to allow depletions of the project water supply available below Elephant Butte, then Texas Bargained for little under the Compact.  That view of the Compact is inconsistent with its basic purpose, which is to equitably apportion the water of the Rio Grande Basin–from its headwaters to Fort Quitman–among the three compacting states.”

The ball is now in the hands of the United States Supreme Court, which will determine whether to grant Texas’ motion to file a complaint and hear the lawsuit.

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