Yesterday morning Goldwater Institute attorney Nick Dranias argued before the Ninth Circuit on behalf of Tombstone, Arizona, defending Tombstone's right to access its water supply against hostile action by the Obama Administration.
As you may remember, last year a devastating combination of wildfires and monsoons ravaged Tombstone’s water supply, leaving only 3 of 25 springs in operation. Despite a declared state of emergency, the Obama administration still refuses to let the town repair its water lines, which originate in federal wilderness area, with anything besides horses and hand-tools, for fear of disturbing the Mexican spotted owl.
I discussed the case yesterday morning on Fox & Friends, which you can watch here.
The federal government often gets in the way during disaster and emergency situations when state and local governments need to protect the health and safety of the public. During the BP oil spill, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal wanted to send state workers out to protect the shorelines and the federal government held him off for weeks. Who knows how much damage to wildlife and the wetlands could have been prevented if Louisiana had been able to act quickly.
It's a terrible irony that constitutional law has deteriorated to the point where governments can ban Big Gulps under the guise of "public safety," but lack the right to restore a desperately needed water supply.
The Tenth Amendment guarantees state and municipal governments the right to protect public health and safety without seeking a permission slip from the federal government. We hope a victory in this case will help restore this critical freedom.
Goldwater Institute: Tombstone v. United States of America
New York Times: With Wild West Spirit, Tombstone Fights for Its Water