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
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Supreme Court rules in big land-into-trust case
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Filed Under: Law | Trust

Tribes that weren't under federal jurisdiction in 1934 cannot follow the land-into-trust process of the Indian Reorganization Act, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday.

By a 6-3 vote, the justices said the Interior Department can't acquire land for the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island because the tribe didn't gain federal recognition until 1983. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion.

"Because the record in this case establishes that the Narragansett Tribe was not under federal jurisdiction when the IRA was enacted, the Secretary does not have the authority to take the parcel at issue into trust," Thomas wrote.

Three justices dissented from the court's opinion. Justice David Souter agreed with the 1934 issue but said the Narragansetts should be given the opportunity to prove they were under federal jurisdiction at the time, an issue that wasn't argued when the case was accepted.

"The very notion of jurisdiction as a distinct statutory condition was ignored in this litigation, and I know of no body of precedent or history of practice giving content to the condition sufficient for gauging the tribe’s chances of satisfying it," Souter wrote in an opinion that was joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Justice John Paul Stevens disagreed with the 1934 issue altogether and said the Narragansetts are an Indian tribe as defined by the IRA. "That tribe has existed as a continuous political entity since the early 17th century," he wrote.

Justice Stephen G. Breyer joined the majority opinion and authored a concurrence that said the Narragansetts have no way of proving they were under federal jurisdiction in 1934. "Because I see no realistic possibility that the Narragansett Tribe could prevail on the basis of a theory alternative to the theories argued here, I would not remand this case," he wrote.

The decision blocks the Narragansetts from using a 31-acre parcel for a housing project. But it also affects every other tribe that wasn't federally recognized, or under federal jurisdiction, in 1934.

Anticipating the outcome, the Narragansetts have sought support for a legislative fix to address the 1934 issue. But tribal leaders expect major opposition from the state's politicians and Congressional delegation.

The National Congress of American Indians discussed the case earlier this year as tribal leaders gathered in Washington, D.C., for the inauguration of President Barack Obama. However, the "Carcieri fix" was left off the final list of priorities for the 111th Congress.

The list of tribes who are affected by the 1934 issue runs in the dozens and includes some of the more financially successful in Indian Country. Many of them, however, may be able to overcome the date limitation by proving they were under federal jurisdiction at the time.

The Department of Justice, in another land-into-trust case that was rejected by the high court last month, said Interior will have to take a look at treaties, statutes, executive orders and other sources of law to answer the federal jurisdiction issue. It's not clear how this process might be developed.

And the decision doesn't appear to affect post-1934 tribes whose land is already in trust, as only Congress can take land out of trust. It would appear only to affect future acquisitions.

"We got the decision and we're reviewing it right now," said Nedra Darling, a spokesperson for the BIA.

The case is Carcieri v. Salazar.

Supreme Court Decision:
Carcieri v. Salazar (February 24, 2009)

Supreme Court Documents:
Oral Argument Transcript | Briefs

Related Stories:
Turtle Talk: Decision brewing in land-into-trust case (01/22)
Land-into-trust case rejected by Supreme Court (1/22)
Land-into-trust case awaits Supreme Court action (1/13)
Turtle Talk: More thoughts on land-into-trust cases (01/13)
Supreme Court rejects two Indian law cases (1/12)
DOJ brief argues 1934 land-into-trust issue again (12/16)
Supreme Court takes on first Indian law case of term (11/04)
Turtle Talk: Poor outlook on land-into-trust case (11/4)
Rhode Island optimistic on land-into-trust case (11/04)
Oregon tribes await outcome of land-into-trust case (11/04)
Appeals court delays casino for Michigan tribe (8/18)
Appeals court judge strikes blows against Indian rights (5/5)
Appeals court backs Gun Lake land-into-trust (4/29)
Appeals court backs Michigan land-into-trust acquisition (7/5)
Appeals court sides with tribe in trust land dispute (1/9)



Copyright © 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:
Supreme Court deals setback to tribes in labor sovereignty dispute (6/27)
Shinnecock Nation hits the end of the line with ancestral land claim (6/27)
Supreme Court won't hear Pauma Band compact negotiation case (6/27)
Native Sun News: Rebuilding the Lakota Nation through education (6/27)
Clara Caufield: Out fishing on the Upper Boulder River in Montana (6/27)
Andre Cramblit: Fond memories of growing up with Muhammad Ali (6/27)
Linda Greenhouse: Supreme Court goes silent in high-profile case (6/27)
Northwest tribes take a stand against oil terminal in Washington (6/27)
Donald Trump fares poorly against Hillary Clinton in national poll (6/27)
Tribes rest easy as Supreme Court wraps up a surprising session (6/24)
Tribes in northern California take action to protect salmon runs (6/24)
Aaron Payment re-elected as chairman of Sault Ste. Marie Tribe (6/24)
Gun Lake Tribe hosts annual Sweet Grass Moon Powwow in July (6/24)
Native Sun News: First Native hockey referee 'Butchy' passes on (6/24)
Delphine Red Shirt: Lakota people denied voting rights on our land (6/24)
Ruth Hopkins: Saving sacred Bear Butte from a massive biker bar (6/24)
Terese Mailhot: Becoming a better ally after the Orlando shooting (6/24)
April Youpee-Roll: Elizabeth Warren owes more to Indian Country (6/24)
Another land-into-trust fix reportedly being drafted in the Senate (6/24)
Federal charges filed in kidnapping of girl on Fort Peck Reservation (6/24)
Non-Indian charged for trespassing at Nambe Pueblo in New Mexico (6/24)
St. Croix Chippewa Tribe warned not to launch marijuana operation (6/24)
Eastern Shawnee Tribe breaks ground on $34M expansion at casino (6/24)
Non-Indian gaming firm loses challenge to law for new tribal casino (6/24)
Grand Ronde Tribes to finish demolition work at site of old racetrack (6/24)
Supreme Court deadlocks in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (6/23)
Matthew Fletcher: 'Huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system (6/23)
Native American Basketball Invitational draws top talent to Arizona (6/23)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe almost done with long-awaited theater (6/23)
Susanville Rancheria thanks lawmakers for help with land-into-trust (6/23)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs schedules hearing on three bills (6/23)
Supreme Court backs affirmative action policy in long-running case (6/23)
Native Sun News: Senate committee takes on Indian Health Service (6/23)
Mark Trahant: A Republican plan to terminate Indian Health Service (6/23)
James Giago Davies: Welfare for corporations but nothing for tribes (6/23)
Peter d'Errico: Justice Clarence Thomas critiques federal Indian law (6/23)
Two charged for beating and setting woman from Crow Tribe on fire (6/23)
White House defends fracking regulation imposed on Indian lands (6/23)
Mescalero Apache woman hosts fundraiser for Miss United States (6/23)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe to collect sales tax on entire reservation (6/23)
Seneca-Cayuga Nation ordered to conduct another council election (6/23)
Poarch Creek land-into-trust bill could help casino effort in Florida (6/23)
Cherokee Nation enters deal to run commercial casino in Arkansas (6/23)
Tohono O'odham Nation told to turn over casino-related documents (6/23)
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.