Blog: Bad decision against Kickapoo Tribe in water rights dispute

"A poor and disconcerting judicial decision on local legislative immunity came down on May 24 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, Kickapoo Tribe v. Black.

The tribe made the argument in its brief that a watershed district board's members should not be able to raise a defense of legislative immunity when (1) two of them owned property in the project area under consideration by the board, and (2) board members participated in activities that made them appear to be seriously biased, including, with the aid of the Kansas Farm Bureau, lobbying trips to Washington, D.C., and letter writing campaigns to (a) convince local municipal and county governments to oppose the project, and (b) to sway public opinion against the project.

The court dismissed this argument. It wrote in its decision, "The court is bound by the precedent of this circuit directing that the application of legislative immunity hinges on the nature of the act, not the motive of the actor. "

Get the Story:
Legislative Immunity: An Official's Motive Is Not At Issue in a Conflict Situation (CityEthics.Org 5/31)