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Supreme Court sides with Kansas in water dispute

•  Recent Cases     updated  2015/02/25 11:04


The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Nebraska to pay Kansas $5.5 million in a long-running legal dispute over use of water from the Republican River.

The justices also gave Nebraska some of what it asked for and ordered changes to the formula for measuring water consumption. Nebraska argued that the formula was unfair.

Justice Elena Kagan, writing the majority opinion, said the court was adopting the recommendations of the independent expert the justices appointed to help resolve the states' differences.

The dispute centers on a 1943 compact allocating 49 percent of the river's water to Nebraska, 40 percent to Kansas and 11 percent to Colorado. Since 1999, Kansas has complained that Nebraska uses more than its fair share of water from the river, which originates in Colorado and runs mostly through Nebraska before ending in Kansas.

"Both remedies safeguard the compact; both insist that states live within its law," Kagan wrote.

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson's office said it was pleased with the decision. The $5.5 million award is significantly less than the $80 million that Kansas had sought.

"We hope the decision will move the basin states forward and provide continued incentives toward shared solutions to our common problems," the office said in a statement. "We are confident that payment of the court's recommended award will finally allow us to leave the past where it belongs — in the past."

While calling the decision "reasonable," Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts said he looked forward to working with his Kansas and Colorado counterparts to move forward.



A Philippine court entered a not guilty plea Monday for a U.S. Marine charged with murdering a transgender Filipino, allegedly after he discovered her gender when they checked into a hotel.

Marine Pfc. Joseph Scott Pemberton refused to enter a plea in the brief proceeding in a court in Olongapo city northwest of Manila, according to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima. Journalists were barred from the courtroom.

Dozens of left-wing protesters waved red flags outside the courthouse, demanding justice and an end to the U.S. military presence in the former American colony. Gay and lesbian groups have also staged protests denouncing the killing of Jennifer Laude, whose former name was Jeffrey, as a hate crime.

Monday's arraignment paves the way for Pemberton's trial, which lawyers of the victim's family said is scheduled to start next month.

"Finally justice can be attained for our sibling," Marilou Laude, the victim's sister, told reporters. She said she was shaking in anger when she saw the handcuffed suspect, who was guarded by several security escorts in the courtroom.

Pemberton has been charged by prosecutors in the Oct. 11 killing. They say the U.S. Marine strangled her and then drowned her in a hotel toilet after discovering she was a transgender woman. They had checked into the hotel after meeting in a bar.



A federal appeals court says record-setting test pilot Chuck Yeager can sue a Utah gun safe company that named a line of safes after him.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver ruled Tuesday that the 91-year-old can sue Fort Knox Security Products over an oral agreement from the 1980s that allowed the use of his name and picture in exchange for free safes.

The decision says the arrangement ended around 2008, after Yeager's wife started asking questions about it.

The court dismissed some claims but ruled that Yeager can sue over claims that the company kept using his likeness after the agreement ended. The company disputes that accusation.

Yeager served during World War II and became the first person to break the sound barrier in 1947.



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