Arizona v. California: The Case Of The Century

"The law is simply expediency wearing a long, white dress." --- Quentin Crisp
Many court cases have vied for the title of "The Case of the Century", starting as far back as Fatty Arbuckle's murder trial early in the twenties and extending through the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Sacco and Vanzetti case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Rodney King trial and the O.J. Simpson case. But all of these pale in comparison to Arizona v. California, the titanic legal and political battle for control of the waters of the Colorado River, a conflict which goes back almost to the turn of the century, which almost resulted in bloodshed, and which continued for over sixty years. Even to this day, Arizona v. California is being argued and deliberated over. Oral argument in the latest incarnation of the battle was set for April, 2000. But where did the conflict start and how did it develop? This web project is intended to educate people about the importance of the case to the development of the West in the twentieth century.

The threads of this case intertwine with practically every part of American history in the West, and examining it provides a view of the interconnectedness of the tapestry of our history.


Be sure to visit the Arizona v. California message board to share your thoughts on the case and the site.

Acknowledgments and Disclaimer

I could not have written these webpages without the excellent free legal reference service provided by FindLaw, which I recommend to anyone, layman, student or lawyer as probably the best legal resource on the Internet.

Marc Reisner's excellent "Cadillac Desert" also provided a great deal of inspiration and information, as well as Thomas Sheridan's "Arizona".

These webpages were most directly sparked by my participation in Professor Robert Glennon's "History of the Law of the Colorado River" class at the University of Arizona's College of Law.

A brief disclaimer: I am an Arizonan born and bred. I don't know if that makes any difference to you, but there it is.


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