Law | Opinion

Opinion: Supreme Court showdown in Cayuga Nation dispute

Members of the Cayuga Nation at a community gathering in June 2010. Photo from Ithaca College

Writer suggests the Cayuga Nation might be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court as part of a foreclosure dispute with a New York County:
In a per curiam opinion, the Second Circuit has set the stage for a showdown on county foreclosure for failure to pay ad valorum taxes on reservation property once alienated but now returned to reservation control.

Seneca County was enjoined by the District Court from foreclosing upon certain parcels of the Cayuga Nation’s real property to satisfy unpaid ad valorem property taxes. The Second Circuit upheld the injunction, stating that tribal sovereign immunity from suit barred the County’s attempt to collect the taxes via foreclosure. The decision was squarely based on a Supreme Court decision issued this year, Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community.

Bay Mills holds that tribes retain, as “a necessary corollary to Indian sovereignty and self‐governance,” a common‐law immunity from suit. Courts must dismiss any suit against a tribe absent congressional authorization or a waiver of immunity.

A public debtor must therefore point to a Congressional statute authorizing recovery through foreclosure for non-payment of taxes owed by the Nation. A court will not carve out exceptions to that immunity.

Get the Story:
James Ching: Supreme Court Preview: County Can’t Foreclose on Indian Nation’s Reacquired Reservation Land (Law.Com 8/3)

Another Opinion:
Our view: Congress needs to act on tribal lawsuit immunity (The Auburn Citizen 8/3)

2nd Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Cayuga Nation v. Seneca County (July 31, 2014)

Related Stories:
Cayuga Nation welcomes 2nd Circuit decision in foreclosure suit (8/1)
2nd Circuit protects Cayuga Nation from foreclosure proceeding (7/31)
2nd Circuit holds hearing in Cayuga Nation foreclosure case (01/08)
Opinion: Reject Cayuga Nation's land-into-trust application (1/6)
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)

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