13 Mar 2010, 4:29pm
Homo sapiens Salmon and other fish
by admin

Oregon Supreme Court Upholds Klamath Farmer Water Rights

In a landmark decision issued last Thursday, the Oregon Supreme Court held that Klamath farmers have a valid property interest in their water rights. That means that when the Federal Government steals, appropriates, or cuts off the use of water, Klamath farmers can petition for just compensation under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The OSC decision is [here].

Klamath Irrigation District v. United States, 345 Or 638, 202 P3d 159

“In sum, we find nothing in the text and context of the 1905 statute that would preclude plaintiffs from acquiring a beneficial or equitable property interest in the water right appropriated by the United States.”

The plaintiffs in this case were various Klamath irrigation districts and affected farmers. The defendants were the United States of America and the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations (PCFFA). The State of Oregon intervened on behalf of the Feds. The PCFFA was represented by Todd True of Earthjustice. The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Klamath Tribes also intervened on behalf of the Feds.

The plaintiffs kicked all their asses.

Nancie G. Marzulla of Marzulla Law, LLC represented the farmers. She reports [here]:

Klamath Water Users Win Big in Oregon Supreme Court’s Ruling

WASHINGTON - (Business Wire) The Oregon Supreme Court issued a groundbreaking decision yesterday, resolving issues that have prevented the water users in the Klamath Reclamation Project (located in southern Oregon and northern California) from obtaining just compensation for the taking of their irrigation water in 2001.

Klamath Irrigation Dist. v. United States, (No. S056275) (Or. Mar. 11, 2010). The Oregon Supreme Court held that the Oregon legislature in 1905 did not give away all of its water rights in the Klamath Reclamation Project to the federal government. Further, the Court stated that whatever rights the federal government did acquire in 1905 were for the benefit of the water users: “[I]n acquiring water rights under the aegis of the Reclamation Act, the United States was not acting for its own benefit, but for the benefit of the persons who Congress intended would put the water to beneficial use reclaiming the land” — in other words, the farmers who are the plaintiffs in this lawsuit.

Finally, the Oregon Supreme Court held that the Klamath Basin adjudication that is currently underway does not deprive the water users of the ability to pursue their taking claim in federal court, explaining that “[a] person asserting only a beneficial or equitable property interest in a water right is not a ‘claimant’ who must appear in the Klamath Basin adjudication and file a claim to determine that interest.”

“We are thrilled with this decision,” stated Nancie G. Marzulla, lead counsel for the Klamath water users in the Court of Federal Claims proceeding. “The trial judge obviously was wrong on Oregon law and plainly misapprehended how federal reclamation law operates. We are glad that we now have some definitive guidance and direction for the trial court as we go forward to complete this litigation.”

The Oregon Supreme Court’s decision was in response to three questions posed to it by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Now that the Oregon Supreme Court has answered these questions, the case will go back to the Federal Circuit and ultimately back to the trial court for final resolution. The case arises from events that took place in 2001. That year the federal government took all of the farmers’ water during the growing season, depriving the farmers of any water with which to grow their crops. The water was used to benefit three species of endangered fish. The water users did not challenge whether the federal government could take their water for endangered fish protection, but instead asked that the federal government compensate them for the taking of their water rights that year—which had inflicted devastating losses on the farmers who had been forced to sit out an entire growing season due to the taking.

Marzulla Law is a Washington, D.C.-based law firm that represents water users and water entities in complex litigation in matters involving water, property, and environmental issues. For further information about Marzulla Law or this decision go to www.marzullalaw.com.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (part of the Bill of Rights) states in part:

… nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

The private property of the Klamath farmers (their water) was absconded by the U.S. Government, and now thanks to this ruling, the farmers can continue to pursue their takings case.

It should not go unmentioned that the PCFFA, Earthjustice, the Natural Resources Defense Council, and the State of Oregon oppose the Fifth Amendment and wish it was not in the Constitution.

Similarly, journalist Jeff Barnard, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Coos Bay World are hugely disappointed that the Constitution protects individual human rights. They reported [here, here].

Oregon Supreme Court punts on Klamath water claims

Grants Pass, Oregon - The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday kept alive claims by Klamath Basin farmers that the federal government should pay them for shutting off water to crops in 2001 to help protected fish survive a drought. …

John Echeverria, a professor at the Vermont Law School representing the Natural Resources Defense Council as a friend of the court, said the case has significant implications across the West for balancing farmers’ interests in irrigating their crops on federal projects against the public’s interest in helping fish and wildlife survive.

“I think the general understanding is that water in which the public has an interest is subject to regulation to protect the public’s interest,” he said. “My expectation is this claim ultimately will or should fail. If it succeeds, it will be devastating in terms of the public interest.”

According to these media purveyors, the “public interest” should trump individual rights, and when the courts fail find in favor of the “public interest” over individuals, that is “punting”. That authoritarian philosophy is common in royalist, communist, and other dictator-run countries, but was rejected by the Founding Fathers.

The philosophy of the Founding Fathers was that governments are formed to protect individual human rights.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

When the Constitution was written, the states refused to sign it unless the Bill of Rights was added.

Today it is de rigueur among the chattering classes to dismiss the Bill of Rights as a pain in the collectivist rump. People like Todd True, John Echeverria, Jeff Barnard, Clark Walworth (publisher/editor of the Coos Bay World), and Mary E. Junck (Chairman, President and CEO of Lee Enterprises, which owns the Coos Bay World) would like to see the U.S. Constitution burned at the stake.

In fact, all those folks who chatter about “animal rights” and “endangered species” hate the U.S. Constitution with a passion. The Constitution protects individual human rights, not animal rights. No animals wrote or signed the Constitution.

Collectivists, Marxists, and other numbskulls also hate the U.S. Constitution because it does not even acknowledge the existence of “community rights”. As far as the Founders were concerned, communities have no rights; only individual people do.

For emphasis, we repeat that factoid:

Communities have no rights; only individual people do.

It’s a bummer for all you collectivists out there, I know. Maybe you should leave and form your own country somewhere else. In this country we go by the Constitution, and I foresee no change in that arrangement.

Note: thanks to Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here, here] for the news tip.



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