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: Website tracks missing and murdered women (7/30)
Native Sun News: AmeriCorps expands efforts in Indian Country (7/30)
House Natural Resources Committee markup on four tribal bills (7/30)
Mark Begich: A permanent fix for tribal contract support costs (7/30)
Paul Moorehead: Let's get back to promoting self-government (7/30)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin named one of 50 Most Beautiful on Hill (7/30)
Great Plains tribes hold conference to safeguard water rights (7/30)
Editorial: Muscogee Nation paves the way for college's future (7/30)
NPR: Relying on social media to keep Native languages alive (7/30)
Opinion: EPA exploits tribes by recognizing their sovereignty (7/30)
Employees at Graton Rancheria casino to negotiate labor deal (7/30)
Tohono O'odham Nation blasts bill to bar off-reservation casino (7/30)
Opposition group sues to block gaming referendum in Nebraska (7/30)
Native Sun News: Native nations unite on uranium mine cleanup (7/29)
Audio from House subcommittee hearing on five tribal measures (7/29)
House Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs hearing (7/29)
Witness List: SCIA hearing on natural disasters in Indian Country (7/29)
Gyasi Ross: Tribes put principle over profit in banning Ted Nugent (7/29)
Steven Newcomb: UN perpetuates dominance of Native peoples (7/29)
Megan Red Shirt-Shaw: Music festival outlaws faux headdresses (7/29)
BIA holds final in-person meeting on federal recognition reform (7/29)
'Caucasians' t-shirt sees boost in popularity thanks to Native DJ (7/29)
WyoFile: Tribes depend on Medicaid funding for health services (7/29)
Another member of Miccosukee Tribe killed in fatal car accident (7/29)
Former employee sentenced for theft from Chippewa Cree Tribe (7/29)
Editorial: Washington team's 'racial slur' has no place in society (7/29)
Review: 'Unreal City' exploits coal from Hopi and Navajo tribes (7/29)
Senate bill introduced to kill Tohono O'odham Nation casino bid (7/29)
Mohegan Tribe reports declines in gaming revenues and profits (7/29)
Muscogee Nation adds steakhouse to $335M casino expansion (7/29)
Editorial: Proposed Pojoaque Pueblo compact hurts New Mexico (7/29)
Tim Giago: Lakota and Pueblo Indians on Pine Ridge Reservation (7/28)
Native Sun News: President of Oglala Sioux Tribe dodges bullets (7/28)
Puyallup fashion designer competes for prize in Project Runway (7/28)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee sets business meeting on bills (7/28)
NIEA heads to Capitol Hill to advocate for Native language bills (7/28)
Obama signs Pascua Yaqui and Hoonah Indian Association bills (7/28)
Ho-Chunk Inc executive Lance Morgan receives business honor (7/28)
Charles Roessel: BIE reform plan includes teacher certification (7/28)
Troy Eid: Marijuana experiment in Colorado hurts Indian youth (7/28)
BIA hosts scoping meeting on Paiute Tribe land-into-trust bid (7/28)
Cherokee Nation program keeps former inmates out of prison (7/28)
Grand Ronde Tribes disenroll 86 descendants of treaty signer (7/28)
Protest targets disenrollments within Saginaw Chippewa Tribe (7/28)
At least 10 tribes adopt laws to recognize same-sex mariages (7/28)
KUOW: Coeur d'Alene Tribe cleans meth houses with EPA funds (7/28)
Law Article: Supreme Court sends reminder on tribal immunity (7/28)
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.