indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Indian Law Online Master Degree - University of Tulsa College of Law
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
U.S. Supreme Court vacancy impacts tribal rights
Monday, June 20, 2005

All eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court this month for the possible resignation of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

In ailing health due to thyroid cancer, Rehnquist, 80, is widely expected to retire once the court wraps up its current term next week. The move would give President Bush an opportunity to nominate not only a replacement but a new chief justice. Both positions require Senate confirmation.

The stakes are incredibly high, especially for Indian Country. In recent years, the court has consistently ruled against tribal interests in sovereignty, taxation and other disputes. Tribes lost four out of five cases during the 2000-2001 term, viewed as one of the worst in recent memory.

That wasn't always the situation, tribes and their advocates point out. John Echohawk, the executive director of the Native American Rights Fund, said the top court used to be a place where tribes could seek final justice.

"In recent years, that has changed as the U.S. Supreme Court, and the federal courts generally, have gotten a bit more conservative on us and it hasn't been as easy as it used to be to win these cases," Echohawk told attendees of the Federal Bar Association's recent Indian law conference.

With Indian law cases often decided on 5-4 or 6-3 vote, any change in the high court's makeup could make it even harder. Based on recent rulings, the justices seem deeply divided on how far tribal sovereignty goes, especially when it affects non-Indians and off-reservation interests.

"I think we are all aware of the degree to which the Supreme Court in the last quarter-century has issued jurisdictional decisions that have attempted to 'check' tribes as they have sought to revitalize their sovereignty," said Riyaz Kanji, a lawyer in private practice and former Supreme Court clerk, at the same conference.

The White House has been tightlipped about a possible vacancy on the court. But in the past, Bush has said his favorite justices are Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who almost always rule against tribes. Bush's record in nominating conservative-leaning judges for the district and appellate courts bears that out.

According to news reports, Bush is considering Supreme Court nominees along the same lines. Some of the names frequently mentioned include D.C. Circuit Court Judge John G. Roberts, 4th Circuit Court Judge J. Michael Luttig and White House counsel Alberto Gonzales.

Of the three, only Roberts has significant experience in Indian law. He represented the state of Alaska in the Venetie Supreme Court case of 1988 that held that land owned by Alaska Native villages is not Indian Country.

He also represented the state of Hawaii in the Rice v. Cayetano case of 2000. He defended the state's Native Hawaiian-only election before the high court, which ultimately struck it down as unconstitutional.

Additionally, before he joined the D.C. Circuit Court, Roberts worked on an informal basis with tribal lawyers on the NARF-NCAI joint Supreme Court project. Tribes started the project in 2001 in response to the court's negative rulings.

The effort has been successful, according to participants. Since the 2000-2001 term, tribes lost only two major cases while winning two major cases. At the same time, the court accepted only a small number of Indian law cases, rejecting many more affecting sovereignty, gaming, sacred sites and the trust relationship.

But major challenges lie ahead for the term that starts October 2005. The court is slated to hear a significant tax dispute that could affect tribes nationwide. Other petitions have been filed in high-profile sovereignty and land-into-trust cases.

Relevant Links:
NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project - http://doc.narf.org/sc/index.html

Related Stories:
High court won't take on Native Hawaiian recognition (06/14)
Appeals court to rehear tribal jurisdiction case (06/08)
Tribal authority over all Indians still unsettled question (06/23)
Myers not included in compromise on Bush judges (05/24)
Tribal sovereignty must be respected, court rules (05/13)
Supreme Court Roundup: Indian law cases rejected (04/19)
Supreme Court refuses Bush appeal of trust case (04/19)
Supreme Court takes drug case tied to peyote use (04/19)
Indian lawyer cites 'hostile' atmosphere in Washington (04/15)
Contracts still an issue despite Supreme Court win (04/14)
Oneida Nation begins land-into-trust process (04/13)
Supreme Court to weigh appeal of trust lawsuit (04/07)
BIA official calls high court ruling 'quite depressing' (03/31)
Supreme Court overturns Oneida Nation case (03/30)
Tribes win decision in contract support cost case (03/02)
Supreme Court takes on tribal-state tax dispute (03/01)
Passage of time at issue in Oneida Nation case (01/12)
Supreme Court rejects two Indian law cases (1/12)
U.S. Supreme Court decides cases without Rehnquist (12/14)
U.S. Supreme Court asked to rule on state taxation (12/02)
Peabody takes coal lease dispute to high court (12/01)
Tribal contracts pose conflict for U.S. Supreme Court (11/10)
Court to hear self-determination contract case (11/9)
Supreme Court takes action on Indian law cases (11/02)
Mille Lacs diminishment case before Supreme Court (10/22)
South Dakota challenge to tribes rejected by high court (10/19)
Supreme Court Roundup: 2003-2004 Term (07/08)
Supreme Court affirms tribal powers over all Indians (04/20)
Supreme Court to resolve self-determination dispute (03/23)
Cantwell stresses importance of judicial picks (6/17)
Tribal fears in Supreme Court case go unrealized (5/20)
Supreme Court case too close to call for some (4/1)
Supreme Court tussles with tribal sovereignty case (4/1)
Supreme Court case pits tribes against states (3/31)
Supreme Court panel's predictions mostly came true (3/19)

Copyright 2000-2005 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: EPA hears Native views about uranium mining (5/27)
Renae Yellowhorse: Navajo Nation can't cede power to outsiders (5/27)
David Treuer: Andrew Jackson turned on Cherokee Nation allies (5/27)
Menominee Nation school sees dramatic rise in graduation rate (5/27)
Poarch Creeks planning family-friendly entertainment at project (5/27)
Coquille Tribe names executive at economic development entity (5/27)
Cherokee law students eager for summer work on Indian issues (5/27)
USDA sends $125K to Indian economic development corporation (5/27)
County by Pine Ridge Reservation receives justice service grant (5/27)
Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick to challenge Sen. John McCain in 2016 race (5/27)
Blood Tribe combats rise in abuse of extremely dangerous drug (5/27)
Supreme Court won't hear challenge to Graton Rancheria casino (5/27)
Kialegee Tribal Town given extension to respond in gaming case (5/27)
Quapaw Tribe looks to dispel concerns about casino in Arkansas (5/27)
Pokagon Band faces hurdles in plan to develop casino in Indiana (5/27)
California tribes still divided over efforts to legalize online poker (5/27)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne Tribe tackles school truancy (5/26)
Mark Trahant: Native village secures return of ancestral territory (5/26)
Secretary Jewell leads delegation to Indian school in Oklahoma (5/26)
Updated witness list for SCIA hearing on economic development (5/26)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules meeting and hearing (5/26)
Mary Ann Andreas: Candidates must keep informed about tribes (5/26)
Steve Russell: National sovereignty cannot cloak all evil conduct (5/26)
Gabriel Galanda: The tide is turning against tribal disenrollments (5/26)
Vince Two Eagles: Summertime means powwows and Sundances (5/26)
Boyd Cothran: America moves from Civil War to the Indian Wars (5/26)
Vivian Delgado: Native college graduates mark a rite of passage (5/26)
Blackfeet Nation adds 162 names to Montana veterans memorial (5/26)
Native women compete in first Miss Indigenous Ecuador contest (5/26)
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe asks BIA to inspect financial documents (5/26)
Maine tribes hold rally after withdrawing from state Legislature (5/26)
Chemehuevi Tribe to reopen elementary school on reservation (5/26)
Arguments heard in lawsuit over federal judge's racist e-mails (5/26)
Appropriations bill allows VA hospitals to recommend marijuana (5/26)
Editorial: Navajo Nation leader makes right call on Grand Canyon (5/26)
Opinion: Andrew Jackson led horrifying campaigns against tribes (5/26)
Cayuga Nation Leaders: Tribe hasn't authorized gaming facilities (5/26)
Pair last seen at San Pasqual casino found on nearby reservation (5/26)
Chukchansi Tribe remains in talks with NIGC for casino reopening (5/26)
Pala Band finishes $5.7M casino renovation in just a few months (5/26)
Leader of Sandia Pueblo accused of preventing arrest at casino (5/26)
Tim Giago: Boot camp etched forever into the minds of veterans (5/25)
Native Sun News: Newspaper comes home with 14 media awards (5/25)
Gyasi Ross: Martin Sensmeier lands role in major Hollywood film (5/25)
Andre Cramblit: Let's see some real Indian actors on the screen (5/25)
Steven Newcomb: U.S. perpetuates dominance over our nations (5/25)
Valerie Goodness: Don't ignore indigenous ecological knowledge (5/25)
Peter d'Errico: Lawmakers kill bill for indigenous rights in Canada (5/25)
Matthew Scraper: ICWA opponents wrong to cite blood quantum (5/25)
Judge at center of ICWA lawsuit in South Dakota stripped of title (5/25)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne student receives top honor (5/22)
Lakota Country Times: Newspaper takes home a slew of awards (5/22)
James Davies: The new tactic is to pretend racism doesn't exist (5/22)
Thomas O'Rourke: Yurok Tribe is a leader in forest restoration (5/22)
Terese Marie Mailhot: Message to all young Native Americans (5/22)
Matt Remle: Tribal nations take a stand to protect Turtle Island (5/22)
DOJ proposes bill to improve access to voting in Indian Country (5/22)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate ready to exercise VAWA jurisdiction (5/22)
Grande Ronde Tribes await decision on flying flag at high school (5/22)
Cherokee Nation sues pharmaceutical firms over drug products (5/22)
Snoqualmie Tribe reports result of election for five council seats (5/22)
Law Article: Navajo Nation wages battle over 'Navajo' products (5/22)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.