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Justice Antonin Scalia dies with Indian law cases on the docket

Filed Under: Law | National | Politics
More on: antonin scalia, obituaries, supreme court

Native women and their supporters rallied at the U.S. Supreme Court on December 7, 2015, as the justices heard Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. Photo by Indianz.Com

Justice Antonin Scalia, a consistent anti-tribal voice on the U.S. Supreme Court, was found dead in Texas on Saturday, The San Antonio Express-News reported. He was 79.

Scalia's passing leaves a significant void on the nation's highest court. The justices have a record four Indian law cases on the docket, with decisions pending in three of those.

The court already decided Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. US, a contract support costs case that went against the Menominee Nation. The decision to limit the tribe's claims to self-determination shortfalls at the Indian Health Service was unanimous.

In December, the justices heard Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a tribal jurisdiction case, but they haven't issued a decision. The lack of a ninth justice could affect the outcome of the case, with a 4-4 decision or better resulting in a victory for the sovereignty of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

The court also already heard Nebraska v. Parker and even Scalia appeared to be skeptical of attempts to diminish the reservation of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. But a decision hasn't been issued.

The fourth case, US v. Bryant, will determine whether tribal convictions can be used in federal courts. Briefs are still being accepted.

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