Law | Opinion

Bryan Newland: The racist foundation of Supreme Court rulings






Dollar General opened its 11,000th store in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 2012. Photo from Facebook

Attorney Bryan Newland, a member of the Bay Mills Indian Community, takes a look at closer look at the opening brief filed in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a tribal jurisdiction case that will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court:
For the past four decades, the Supreme Court has relied on the assumption that courts run by Indians cannot possibly match their state and federal counterparts in the administration of equal justice.

Of course, a quick scan of the headlines will reveal plenty of abuses in state courts: the Ferguson, Missouri court’s practice of treating defendants like a revenue stream; a Pennsylvania judge accepting cash in exchange for sending juvenile offenders to certain private prisons. The list goes on.

There is a flip side to the Supreme Court’s assumption: tribal courts are okay for Indians, but they are not good enough for non-Indians. At their core, these are racist assumptions.

I grew up on the Bay Mills Indian Reservation. So did my non-Indian wife. My non-Indian father lived on the Reservation for 35 years. He leased land from the Tribe. He lived in the community. He even worked for the tribal government for a spell. He has spent more time living on Indian lands than I have. According to Dollar General, the State of Oklahoma, and Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, and prior Supreme Court’s decisions, our tribal court is good enough for me, but it isn’t good enough for my father.

Get the Story:
Bryan Newland: Dollar General and the Racist Foundation of the Supreme Court’s Tribal Jurisdiction Cases (Turtle Talk 9/8)

5th Circuit Decision:
Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (March 14, 2014)
Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (March 14, 2014)

Related Stories:
Supreme Court agrees to hear first tribal jurisdiction case in years (06/15)
Supreme Court needs more time to review tribal jurisdiction case (6/8)
SCOTUSBlog: DOJ urges denial of petition in tribal court dispute (05/20)
DOJ files brief in tribal jurisdiction case before Supreme Court (5/14)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians DC meeting (2/27)
Updates from National Congress of American Indians winter session (2/26)
Supreme Court asks DOJ for views in Mississippi Choctaw case (10/06)

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