indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

printer friendly version
Supreme Court to rule on tribal-federal prosecution
Wednesday, October 1, 2003

The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that it will resolve whether tribal governments have inherent sovereignty over all American Indians, not just members of their own tribes.

In a case with national significance, the justices accepted an appeal filed by the Bush administration. The Department of Justice is arguing that dual tribal and federal prosecution of Indian offenders does not violate the U.S. Constitution's ban on double jeopardy.

The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded otherwise and said that an Indian man who pleaded guilty in tribal court could not be tried for the same offense in federal court. A divided panel of judges voted 7-4 in March to strike down a federal indictment against Billy Jo Lara on charges that he punched a police officer on the Spirit Lake Reservation in North Dakota.

But the 9th Circuit arrived at a different conclusion in June 2001. In an 11-0 decision that escaped review by the Supreme Court, a full panel of judges said tribes who prosecute members of other tribes are exercising sovereignty independent of the federal government.

The government is pushing for resolution of the conflict because the two circuits, along with the 10th, represent the "vast majority" of the American Indian and Alaska Native population. The 8th Circuit covers North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska and Iowa while the 9th Circuit affects California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Nevada and Alaska.

The 8th Circuit decision "undermines effective law enforcement in Indian Country," Solicitor General Ted Olson wrote in a July 22 brief.

Alexander F.Reichert, the attorney representing Lara, disputes the ruling's impact. In an interview, he said it will encourage tribal and federal government to work together on reservations.

"What I think it's going to do is force more cooperation between U.S. attorneys, tribal prosecutors and tribal courts," he said yesterday. "It will force the federal authorities to take a close look at tribal courts and tribal jurisdiction."

Tribes across the country are interested in the case because it impacts their push to regain full authority over their lands. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) plan to submit an amicus brief siding with the government, an NCAI spokesperson said yesterday

At issue is an amendment to the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) of 1968. Known as the "Duro fix," it was passed in 1991 in response to the Supreme Court's Duro v. Reina, decision, which held that tribes lack criminal jurisdiction over members of other tribes.

The 8th Circuit interpreted the Duro fix as an extension of tribal jurisdiction, not a recognition of it. "The Spirit Lake Nation exercises authority over external relations only to the extent that such a power has been delegated to it by Congress," Judge Roger L. Wollman wrote in U.S. v. Lara.

The 9th Circuit determined that Congress acted appropriately to affirm tribal rights. "When a tribe exercises inherent power, it flexes its own sovereign muscle, and the dual sovereignty exception to double jeopardy permits federal and tribal prosecutions for the same crime," wrote Judge M. Margaret McKeown in U.S. v Enas.

Although not fully discussed in the government's brief, the 7th Circuit, in U.S. v. Long, has upheld the inherent jurisdiction of the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin even though the tribe's federal status was terminated and later restored by Congress.

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 03-107 (Supreme Court) | Briefs: U.S. v. Lara (NCAI/NARF Supreme Court Project)

Get the Decision:
8th Circuit: U.S. v. Lara (en banc) (March 24, 2003) | U.S. v. Lara (panel) (June 20, 2002)

Related Decisions:
9th Circuit: U.S. v. Enas (June 29, 2001) | 7th Circuit: U.S. v. Long (March 20, 2003) |

Relevant Links:
NCAI/NARF Supreme Court Project - http://www.narf.org/sc/index.html

Related Stories:
DOJ's Supreme Court brief backs sovereignty (7/30)
Tribal jurisdiction faces test before Supreme Court (07/03)
Court rulings on tribal jurisdiction are in conflict (04/16)
Inouye ties sovereignty to homeland security (02/25)
Tribes seek to overturn Supreme Court (2/27)
Native man denied by Supreme Court (01/22)
Court upholds dual tribal, federal prosecutions (7/2)

Copyright 2000-2003 Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to Indian housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
Richard King: Mascot poll reflects pervasive anti-Indian racism (5/24)
Marco Alvarez: Voices of indigenous people usually go unheard (5/24)
Indian Health Service facility cited for treatment of 6-month-old (5/24)
Tribes meet to discuss sale of ancestors and property in France (5/24)
Families of missing Native women in Canada still await justice (5/24)
Menominee Nation considers options after losing hemp lawsuit (5/24)
Dental group appears to relent on therapists in Indian Country (5/24)
Alaska Natives welcome removal of 'Eskimo' from federal laws (5/24)
Joba Chamberlain lands on disabled list after joining new team (5/24)
Coquille Tribe awaits environmental review for gaming project (5/24)
Seminole Tribe still going strong despite lack of new casino deal (5/24)
Long wait hints at tie in closely-watched tribal jurisdiction case (5/23)
Another Indian Health Service facility in Great Plains threatened (5/23)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee schedules hearing on wildfires (5/23)
Supreme Court delays review of Seneca Nation land case again (5/23)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge school hosts meth awareness day (5/23)
Lakota Country Times: Native men still missing after two weeks (5/23)
Tim Giago: Some good old days really were the 'good old days' (5/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Jay Silverheels was more than 'Tonto' (5/23)
Delphine Red Shirt: It's our duty to teach the Lakota language (5/23)
Ernestine Chasing Hawk: A vendetta in the death of Anna Mae (5/23)
Native Sun News: Rapid City group aims to address disparities (5/23)
Tara Houska: Mascots hurt Native youth despite results of poll (5/23)
Vincent Schilling: Mascot poll doesn't reflect true Indian voices (5/23)
Wenona Wolf: Native people are invisible in our own homeland (5/23)
Roger Birdbear: Obamacare can help address shortfalls at IHS (5/23)
Harold Monteau: Lessons from Canada in Native law and policy (5/23)
Steven Newcomb: Church edicts lead to centuries of domination (5/23)
Robert Jumper: Gaming leads Eastern Cherokees to bright future (5/23)
Naomi Schaefer Riley: Hold tribal leaders accountable for schools (5/23)
Benjamin Madley: Acknowledge the genocide of California tribes (5/23)
Jasmine Heiss: Leonard Peltier's fate lies with President Obama (5/23)
Santa Fe Indian School preparing for First Lady Michelle Obama (5/23)
All charges dropped for murder of Cheyenne man in New Mexico (5/23)
Donald Trump claims 'Jack Abrahamoff scandal' proves him right (5/23)
Kickapoo Tribe added to lawsuit over deadly casino bus accident (5/23)
Settlement opens door to tribal casino at popular Oklahoma lake (5/23)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth learn about martial arts (5/20)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe halts referendum on alcohol (5/20)
Clara Caufield: Off to a new adventure in the Montana mountains (5/20)
Washington Post conducts poll on Native views of racist mascot (5/20)
Warm Springs Tribes see marijuana as means to boost economy (5/20)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.