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SCOTUSBlog: Jockeying for land-into-trust hearing


"At 1 p.m. next Monday, an attorney will step to the Supreme Court’s podium to open the argument in a case pitting the rights of states against the rights of Indian tribes and the power of the federal government. But, with that argument edging ever closer, the identity of that advocate is still not settled.

The Supreme Court finds itself in the midst of what one lawyer involved calls “this impasse” over who gets to speak first, or at all, in the first half of the argument in Carcieri v. Kempthorne (07-526). Court aides have tried repeatedly to get the three parties lined up on that side of the case to settle on one attorney, but so far that effort has failed.

Three parties joined a year ago in asking the Supreme Court to hear the case, testing the power of the U.S. Interior Secretary to approve the Narragansett Indian Tribe’s request to have a 31-acre parcel of land it owns in the town of Charlestown, R.I., placed in trust for the tribe. All three petitioners — Rhode Island’s Governor Donald L. Carcieri, the state itself, and the town of Charlestown — were united in the claim that the federal government has no authority to do that for the Narragansetts. The Court granted review Feb. 25.

Each of the three has since filed its own brief. For oral argument, however, that side gets only 30 minutes. Each of the three previously asked the Court for a chance to send a lawyer to represent it to the podium, splitting up the 30 minutes. The governor and the state attorney general wanted to split the time, and a lawyer for Charlestown also wanted to split the time with the state. (The Narragansetts sought to join in, too, as an amicus.) All pleas for divided argument time have been rejected by the Court, and all three parties on the top side have been told to settle it among themselves."

Get the Story:
Jockeying for the podium (SCOTUSBlog 10/29)

Supreme Court Documents:
Docket Sheet | Questions Presented | Order List

1st Circuit Decisions:
En Banc (July 20, 2007) | Panel (February 9, 2005)

Briefs and Other Documents:
Carcieri v. Kempthorne (NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project

Relevant Laws:
Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act (US Code)

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