SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah


Water rights in America, particularly in western states, have been a pervasive source of legal contention. The histories of these water rights, and the public trust doctrine more broadly, have created a tremendously complex area of law. This field of law is very old and draws on policy concerns stretching back to 100 B.C., overlapping federal and state powers and precedents, and what can only be described as one of the longest games of jurisprudential telephone in existence. As a result, anyone seeking to challenge a state statute, court opinion, or regulation, which they believe impermissibly restricts the public’s right to use the waters, has a big job ahead of them. The party must take on the daunting task of organizing hundreds of years of law into a coherent argument and accounting for every nuance which may lurk in a myriad of state and federal opinions published on the issue.