Members of the Cayuga Nation at a community gathering in June 2010. Photo from Ithaca College
A county in New York can't foreclose on properties owned by the Cayuga Nation due to the tribe's sovereign immunity, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today.
Seneca County started foreclosure proceedings after the tribe failed to pay property taxes on non-trust lands. The 2nd Circuit easily put an end to the dispute by relying on the recent U.S. Supreme Court
decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community.
In a seven-page order today, the 2nd Circuit noted "the Supreme Court has since issued further guidance regarding both the continuing vitality of the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity from suit and the propriety of drawing distinctions that might constrain the broad sweep of that immunity in the absence of express action by Congress."
"Therefore we decline, as has the Supreme Court, to read a 'commercial
activity' exception into the doctrine of tribal sovereign immunity from suit," the order continued.
The 2nd Circuit had arrived at a similar conclusion in a foreclosure dispute affecting the Oneida Nation. That case almost went to the Supreme Court but the tribe reached a settlement that resulted in the dismissal of the petition in March.
Turtle Talk has posted documents from the Cayuga Nation case, Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County.
2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County
(July 31, 2014)
2nd Circuit holds hearing
in Cayuga Nation foreclosure case (01/08)
Opinion: Reject Cayuga Nation's land-into-trust
2nd Circuit schedules hearing
in Cayuga Nation foreclosure (06/27)
Bill requires state to pay
Cayuga Nation property tax bill (5/16)
Cayuga Nation wins decision
on foreclosure of non-trust land (8/22)