indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Supreme Court wraps up October 2004 term
Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The U.S. Supreme Court ended its term on Monday with decisions in a string of high-profile cases but no announcement on the future of Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist.

The possible resignation of Rehnquist, 80, has generated significant speculation in recent months due to his failing health. The White House is said to be gearing up for a vacancy on the high court. Two appeals court judges, including one with experience in Indian law, are said to be on the short list.

But even without news of a vacancy, the court gave the nation plenty to talk about yesterday, delivering opinions in a string of high-profile cases One was a split ruling on the display of the Ten Commandments in public places. The other was a unanimous ruling opening up Internet file-sharing services to lawsuits for distribution of copyrighted materials.

In terms of Indian law, the docket was notable for its relatively light load of cases. Only two tribal cases were argued during the October 2004 term. On the other hand, many more were rejected.

The first case argued and decided during the term was the Cherokee Nation self-determination case, No. 02-1472 [Docket Sheet] and No. 03-853 [Docket Sheet]. On March 1, the court delivered a unanimous 8-0 ruling, holding that the federal government is liable for not fully funding contract support costs.

The victory was overshadowed by Sherrill v. Oneida Nation, No. 03-855 [Docket Sheet], the second case argued and decided during the term. On March 29, the court, by an 8-1 vote, ruled that the Oneida Nation of New York cannot "unilaterally" assert sovereignty over its land claim area without going through the land-into-trust process.

As in years past, tribes took an active role before the court. The National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund, through their Tribal Supreme Court project, submitted amicus briefs in both of the cases. Other tribes submitted brief as well.

Even though the effort didn't pay off 100 percent this term, it is seeing success, said John Echohawk, NARF's executive director. "[The project] has helped up to start formulating and executing legal strategies in the Supreme Court and the federal courts," he said at the Federal Bar Association's recent Indian law conference. "In general, we've been much better coordinating than we've done before."

In the October 2004 term, the project monitored 28 petitions of certiorari that were presented for Supreme Court review. The overwhelming majority -- 23 of them -- were rejected while two are still pending. In almost every instance, this meant tribal rights were protected.

One rejection came just yesterday. In Comstock v. Kennard, No. 04-165 [Docket Sheet], the court refused to hear an oil and gas company's attempt to avoid a False Claims Act suit for underpaying royalties to the Northern Arapaho Tribe and Eastern Shoshone Tribe, both of Wyoming. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in April 2004 allowed two men to pursue their claim against the Comstock company.

The two petitions pending are Delaware Tribe v. Cherokee Nation, No. 04-1368 [Docket Sheet], a dispute over the federal recognition of the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma; and Wyoming Sawmills v. US Forest Service, No. 04-1175 [Docket Sheet], a case involving logging on a sacred medicine wheel in Wyoming. The court won't make a decision on whether to accept the cases until the October 2005 term. The Delaware case could be dropped if the tribe accepts a settlement offered by the Cherokee Nation.

As for the upcoming 2005 term, the court will be deciding at least two Indian law-related cases. Oral arguments have yet to be scheduled.

The first case is Richard v. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, No. 04-631 [Docket Sheet]. In August 2004, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the state of Kansas had no right to impose a distribution tax on gasoline sold by the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation. The state of Kansas, backed by 14 other states, appealed.

The second case is Gonzales v. UDV, No. 04-1084 [Docket Sheet]. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in November 2004 shielded a non-Indian religious group in New Mexico from prosecution for using a hallucinogenic tea. The case has alarmed some Native American Church leaders, who fear it could lead to restrictions on their ability to practice their religion. Federal law allows church members to possess and use peyote, a drug, without prosecution.

The October 2005 term will begin October 3, Rehnquist announced yesterday.

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

Related Stories:
U.S. Supreme Court vacancy impacts tribal rights (06/20)
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)
Supreme Court Roundup: Indian law cases rejected (04/19)
Appeals court revives Wind River royalty fraud case (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...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe honors veterans (9/17)
Mark Trahant: Is independence in the future for tribal nations? (9/17)
Audio: SCIA takes up bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/17)
House approves bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/17)
House Natural Resources Committee sets markup on tribal bills (9/17)
House subcommittee to hold hearing on bill for Hualapai Tribe (9/17)
9th Circuit takes up Big Lagoon Rancheria gaming land dispute (9/17)
House passes bill to shield Gun Lake Tribe casino from litigation (9/17)
Andre Cramblit: Enjoying life at Dartmouth as a Native student (9/17)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Tribes need to lead climate change reform (9/17)
Sarah Deer wins genius grant for work to protect Native women (9/17)
Tex Hall loses bid for another term as chair of North Dakota tribe (9/17)
Group starts dragging of river in search of missing Native women (9/17)
Appeal filed over Navajo language ability of presidential hopeful (9/17)
Trial delayed for leader of Muscogee Nation accused in theft case (9/17)
Editorial: Pass bill to extend federal recognition to Virginia tribes (9/17)
NLRB reaffirms jurisdiction over Little River Band gaming facility (9/17)
Chumash Tribe to use labor unions for all work on casino project (9/17)
Student arrested over theft at Saginaw Chippewa Tribe's casino (9/17)
Native Sun News: Homeless students find support in Rapid City (9/16)
Checks from final payment of Cobell settlement put in the mail (9/16)
DOI offers $9.4M for Cobell buy-backs on Umatilla Reservation (9/16)
House takes up bill to address tribal general welfare programs (9/16)
Tribal leaders headed to Capitol Hill to push legislative priorities (9/16)
NMAI hosts symposium on treaties to coincide with new exhibit (9/16)
Witnesses: Hearing on bill to bar Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Rival tribes spend $13M to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (9/16)
Mark Charles: Trail of Tears sign points to much deeper problem (9/16)
Donna Ennis: Don't let ethnic imposters take away our identity (9/16)
Serial killer sentenced to life term for murder of Native woman (9/16)
Civil rights complaint filed over repeated denial of honor song (9/16)
Sen. Cantwell to introduce bill to end NFL's tax-exempt status (9/16)
House backs package to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/16)
Fort Belknap Tribe detained state game warden for trespassing (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe to open first Smashburger location in December (9/16)
Police in Ontario investigate letter that threatens Native people (9/16)
Urban Indian population grows in Brazil's poorest neighborhoods (9/16)
Indian family in Washington continues bid for casino on allotment (9/16)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe challenges NLRB jurisdiction over casino (9/16)
Mohegan Tribe loses bid for commercial casino in Massachusetts (9/16)
Connecticut tribes see another decline in slot machine revenues (9/16)
Tim Giago: Standing tall for Native American Day in South Dakota (9/15)
Native Sun News: Northern Cheyenne man beaten by BIA officer (9/15)
Mark Trahant: Ten reasons why every Native person should vote (9/15)
Jay Daniels: Still waiting on that final Cobell settlement payment (9/15)
Vote set on bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino from litigation (9/15)
HUD settles complaint for couple on Turtle Mountain Reservation (9/15)
Bryan Brewer: Approve HR3043 to stop IRS harassment of tribes (9/15)
Maryann McGovran: Vote for North Fork Rancheria's gaming deal (9/15)
Donna Ennis: Tribal banishments are a form of cultural genocide (9/15)
Steven Newcomb: Political meanings restrict indigenous peoples (9/15)
Bruce Anderson: Washington team name preserves stereotypes (9/15)
Column: DC-area Native people oppose NFL team's racist mascot (9/15)
House set to vote on bill to transfer federal land to Te-Moak Tribe (9/15)
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.