State Supreme Court posts decision on Lummi vs. State

October 28th, 2010  |  Published in Department of Ecology, Legal

The state Supreme Court posted their decision in Lummi vs. State online this morning. The decision was unanimous with no minority opinion.

UPDATE: Here is an Associated Press story with more detail on the particulars of the decision.

The Lummi Nation, Makah Tribe, Quinault Indian Nation, Tulalip Tribes, Squaxin Island Tribe and Suquamish Tribe, along with several other individuals, fish and environmental groups challenged the 2003 Muncipal Water Law.

Here is some background from the Center for Environmental Law and Policy on the challenged law.

Here is some more background on the case from a Seattle PI story in 2008, after a lower court ruled in favor of the tribes:

The case, considered by some experts the most important water-rights litigation in Washington in two decades, is likely headed to the state Supreme Court. It was closely watched by environmentalists and tribes, who claimed the 2003 law retroactively expanded rights to pump water far beyond what was justified — and is likely to steal enough water from streams to hurt salmon and other creatures.

“It gave away millions of gallons of water a day to municipalities without even having to consider the impact of that on people who already had rights to water in that area,” said Tom Geiger of the Washington Environmental Council, one of the groups involved.

Tribal interests also claimed victory, despite the mixed ruling, because under the current system, “paper water rights” claimed long ago but not yet used eventually could result in cutting water supplies to people who live here now.

Here is a post on the Washington State Supreme Court blog about the case during the oral arguments last winter.

Here is Billy Frank, Jr.’s column in 2008 praising a lower court ruling in the case in favor of the tribes.

Here are the oral arguments in front of the state Supreme Court last winter:

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