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
Falmouth Institute Online Training
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
NCAI's Hall stresses sovereignty in high court debate
Wednesday, July 13, 2005

As President Bush met with Senate leaders on Tuesday to discuss a replacement for retiring U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a key Indian leader said the nominee should understand and support tribal sovereignty.

Tex Hall, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, said tribes plan to play a role in the selection and confirmation of a new justice. The tribal Supreme Court Project is currently working on advancing a nominee for the high court, he said.

"The time clock is running," Hall said in an interview in Washington, D.C., yesterday.

The White House has been mum on a potential replacement and Bush has cast a wide net in meeting with Republicans as well as Democrats in the Senate. Dozens of names have popped up since O'Connor announced her retirement on July 1 but the president is not rushing to make a decision.

The deliberations give tribes a chance to make their views known. "We really need somebody who understands Indian Country and we'd like to pose our own [pick]," Hall said.

But if Bush goes with someone else, Hall said tribes should work with the Senate to ensure that the nominee has an understanding of sovereignty, taxation, jurisdiction and other legal issues facing tribes in the courts. He cited a number of recent Supreme Court decisions that he said have eroded the ability of tribes to exercise their rights and develop economies.

The stakes remain high because the new justice will have a chance to rule on the upcoming case of Kansas v. Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, No. 04-631 [Docket Sheet]. The state is trying to impose a distribution tax on gasoline sold on the reservation.

"This issue is huge for Indian Country right now," Hall said of the Potawatomi case. Oral arguments have not yet been scheduled but will occur during the court's October 2005-2006 term.

Historically, tribes have not played a role in the judicial nominations process largely because the courts -- particularly the Supreme Court -- were seen as a place to seek final justice. But that has changed within the last 25 years as tribes have lost a series of critical cases.

A string of negative rulings during the 2000-2001 term prompted NCAI, in conjunction with the Native American Rights Fund, to form the Supreme Court Project. Participants have focused mostly on monitoring cases and drafting briefs but their work took on a higher profile when NCAI, NARF and numerous tribes and Indian organizations took a stand against a court nominee for the first time in history.

The opposition put a unique spin on the process as Senate Democrats cited tribal views in their successful campaign against William G. Myers III, a former Interior Department solicitor who was tapped for a spot on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears a large number of Indian law cases.

Throughout the controversy, even other nominees began citing their tribal-related work as they went before their confirmation hearings. Two of those picks -- John G. Roberts Jr. and Jeffrey Sutton -- worked with the Supreme Court project on an informal and formal basis and were eventually seated on the bench after lengthy fights.

In writing about Sutton, a Supreme Court project lawyer once said that he "did not simply want to work on the matter for the small amount of compensation it would bring him ... but that he instead had a genuine interest in understanding why Native American tribes have fared as poorly as they have in front of the Supreme Court in recent years, and in trying to help improve that record."

Those kinds of views should be examined as the next Supreme Court nominee undergoes questioning, Hall said. "Your character and your values determine a lot of the philosophy behind their decisions," he said. "Do they understand federal Indian law and is it important to them? Is it part of their character and part of their values?

"That is essential for them to make good, unbiased decision," said Hall, who also serves as chairman of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation of North Dakota.

Republicans say Bush has already contacted or consulted more than 60 senators about a replacement for O'Connor, who will leave once someone is confirmed to the high court. An announcement could come by the end of the month with hearings anticipated in September. The court's October 2005-2006 begins in October.

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

Related Stories:
Mark Trahant: Appoint Indian to U.S. Supreme Court (7/11)
Key Republican speculates on Supreme Court makeup (7/11)
Harjo: O'Connor trampled on Native religious rights (7/8)
Republicans prepare for Rehnquist resignation (7/8)
O'Connor resigns from nation's highest court (7/5)
Justice's tenure filled with key Indian law cases (7/5)
Supreme Court wraps up October 2004 term (06/28)
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)
Appeals court nominees draw fire (1/30)
Bush pick worked on Hicks case (1/30)

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: Oglala student makes name as young writer (4/23)
Mark Trahant: Budget predictions at the Indian Health Service (4/23)
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides in Washington (4/23)
Gyasi Ross: Stop Keystone XL Pipeline and protect homelands (4/23)
Videos: Cowboy Indian Alliance protests Keystone XL Pipeline (4/23)
Steve Russell: Indians often seen an obstacle to government (4/23)
Mary Pember: Ojibwe women rise to protect the environment (4/23)
Brent Cahwee: Shoni Schimmel brings her show to the WNBA (4/23)
Malcolm Benally: Some Navajo leaders clueless on mascots (4/23)
Jacoby Ellsbury makes strong debut with New York Yankees (4/23)
Washington team owner says he 'understands' Indian issues (4/23)
Gathering of Nations ready for annual powwow and pageant (4/23)
Paskenta Band suspends family during contentious meeting (4/23)
Navajo family sues restaurant over drunken driving deaths (4/23)
Crushplate: 10 disturbing facts about Indian Country health (4/23)
North Dakota tribe ranks high among energy producers in US (4/23)
WXPR: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe taps green energy (4/23)
Opinion: Tribal members challenge California taxation rules (4/23)
Supreme Court allows ban on affirmative action in Michigan (4/23)
Turtle Talk: No word from Supreme Court on Bay Mills case (4/23)
ICT interview with Ernie Stevens of NIGA on racist mascots (4/23)
Jamul Band rejects claim about burial ground at casino site (4/23)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sends $1M casino application fee (4/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation seeks road grant for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Teacher resigns after arrest for theft at Poarch Creek casino (4/23)
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
DOI Secretary Sally Jewell delivers keynote at tribal summit (4/22)
DOI Deputy Secretary Mike Connor hosts Earth Day webchat (4/22)
Winona LaDuke: Tribes won't see benefits from Keystone XL (4/22)
Photos: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides to National Mall in DC (4/22)
Alray Nelson: Bring marriage equality to the Navajo Nation (4/22)
Steven Newcomb: UNDRIP falls into domination framework (4/22)
DaShanne Stokes: 'Indian' mascots carry harmful impacts (4/22)
Wendell George: Little Joe connects with his tribal heritage (4/22)
Peter Twitchell: Stop passing the buck on our Yup'ik culture (4/22)
Murray Sinclair: Effects of residential school era will linger (4/22)
Wyoming tribes share per cap from $157M trust settlement (4/22)
Navajo Nation Council reconsiders higher tax on junk foods (4/22)
Choctaw Nation Chief Greg Pyle set to retire after 17 years (4/22)
Opinion: Maps represent destruction of Native people in US (4/22)
Oneida Nation to host PGA championship at resort in 2016 (4/22)
Blog: Climate change impacts Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (4/22)
Supreme Court holding onto ruling in Bay Mills casino case (4/22)
Paskenta Band says leadership issues won't affect casino (4/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe on track with casino hotel (4/22)
Deadline approaches for commercial casinos in New York (4/22)
Native Sun News: Keystone XL Pipeline foes headed to DC (4/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.