Matthew Fletcher: A 'huge win' for Mississippi Choctaw court system

Native women rallied on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court as the justices heard Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a tribal jurisdiction case, on December 7, 2015. Photo by Indianz.Com

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday issued a one-sentence opinion in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians but the impact is still significant. Law professor Matthew Fletcher of Turtle Talk looks at the next steps in the closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case:
Huge win for the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians tribal court and most especially for the family of John Doe. The case must now return to the tribal court for a hearing on the merits. Presumably, DG will settle and we won’t hear any more about this case. One guesses, however, that if DG loses in a merits battle, it could AGAIN try the federal courts to see if they will hear another challenge to the tribe’s jurisdiction, perhaps more closely tied to something like punitive damages. Highly unlikely I would guess.

The battle waged at oral argument may be repeated again and again throughout Indian country. The constitutional issues are highly salient to the conservatives remaining on the Court. At least one thing we can thank DG for is making the best case for nonmembers on those constitutional issues.

The next Supreme Court Justice will decide whether tribes can assert civil jurisdiction over nonconsenting nonmembers. Meanwhile, tribal court plaintiffs will continue to cite to the Fifth Circuit’s opinion in DG, the Ninth Circuit’s opinion in Water Wheel, Merrion, and related cases.

Get the Story:
Matthew Fletcher: Impact of Dollar General Affirmance (Turtle Talk 6/23)

U.S. Supreme Court Decision:
Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (June 23, 2016)

U.S. Supreme Court Documents:
Docket Sheet No. 13-1496 | Questions Presented | Oral Argument Transcript: Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

5th Circuit Court of Appeals 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)

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