Home > News > More Headlines > Showdown looms in tribal sovereignty case
Printer friendly version
Showdown looms in tribal sovereignty case
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2003

The Bush administration is asking the Supreme Court to limit the reach of state jurisdiction in a case that could expand police powers over tribal governments.

In an amicus brief, the Department of Justice urged the court to reject an appeal by a California county whose officials used boltcutters to seize records belonging to the Bishop Paiute Tribe. Solicitor General Ted Olson and other government attorneys said the action was unwarranted.

"The tribes' sovereignty, while subordinate to the sovereignty of the United States, is not subordinate to that of the state," Olson wrote in the January 23 filing.

Standing on the opposite side of the federal government are a host of state and local law enforcement groups. Ten state attorneys general, the National Sheriffs' Association, the California State Sheriffs' Association and the Los Angeles Country district attorney have filed briefs, arguing that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which sided with the tribe, created a loophole by declaring the seizure illegal.

"Not only would the tribe's claimed sovereign power to bar the execution of a state warrant allow criminals to operate untouched when cloaked by an official designation of tribal governmental status, but criminals anywhere within Indian country would benefit if the law enforcement community became unwilling to enter Indian country for fear of the personal liability that might attach to an inadvertent incursion upon the land or property of the tribal government," the states wrote.

"The geographical scope of this specter is substantial."

With oral arguments slated to take place next month, the case is drawing attention as a sequel to Nevada v. Hicks case, widely viewed in Indian Country as a blow to tribal rights. The Supreme Court in 2001 said state police powers apply to individuals who live on reservations.

"State sovereignty does not end at a reservation's border," wrote Justice Antonin Scalia for the majority.

The tribe and the Bush administration attempt to draw a distinction between Hicks and the current dispute. They argue that states have never possessed power over tribal governments. In this case, the records were seized from the tribe's casino, considered an "arm" of the tribe.

Where the two differ is whether the tribe has a right to sue Inyo County for the apparent breach. The Department of Justice says no while the tribe disagrees.

So far, no tribes or tribal organizations have submitted briefs in the case, although it was discussed at the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) conference earlier this month and will be raised next week at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). NCAI President Tex Hall and Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr. are heading a tribal initiative aimed at protecting tribal rights.

Oral arguments are scheduled for March 31.

Briefs:
Bishop Paiute Tribe | Inyo County | United States | State Attorney Generals | National Sheriff's Association | Los Angeles County

Decision Below:
BISHOP PAIUTE TRIBE v. COUNTY OF INYO No. 01-15007 (January 4, 2002)

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 02-281 | Senate Testimony: Monty Bengochia on Supreme Court Precedents

Related Stories:
S.D. tribe to accept state subpoenas (2/19)
S.D. puts pressure on tribal sovereignty (2/12)
Supreme Court work at issue as judge debated (01/30)
State power over tribal government in dispute (12/03)

Copyright © Indianz.Com

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

Girls basketball team proudly wears Navajo hairstyle during game (2/8)
Senate committee to host roundtable on Tribal Law and Order Act (2/8)
Senate Indian Affairs Committee postpones field hearing into EPA (2/8)
National Indian Gaming Commission slated to get a third member (2/8)
Bill John Baker: Cherokee Nation invests in our people's wellbeing (2/8)
Kevin Washburn: Republicans punish tribe in public lands measure (2/8)
Harold Monteau: Democrats stack the deck for only one candidate (2/8)
Cutcha Risling Baldy: Don't let Leonard Peltier die in prison system (2/8)
Robert Jumper: Keep Eastern Cherokee council meetings on record (2/8)
Brian Pierson: Menominee Nation loses decision at Supreme Court (2/8)
Shinnecock Nation approves plans to join medical marijuana field (2/8)
Teams protest corporate sponsor of Native basketball tournament (2/8)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe faces obstacles with repatriation of students (2/8)
Wallace Coffey resigns as chair of Comanche Nation after 25 years (2/8)
Pope Francis to celebrate mass at Indian church for trip to Mexico (2/8)
California communities go without as casino revenue fund dries up (2/8)
Non-Indian firm looking to block Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe casino (2/8)
Umatilla Tribes raise gambling age as sales of liquor start at casino (2/8)
Apology offered to girls who were forced to change Native hairstyle (2/5)
Mark Trahant: Bernie Sanders campaign starts Indian policy group (2/5)
Charles Trimble: Taking responsibility for upkeep of our cemeteries (2/5)
Mary Annette Pember: Memorial to Indian genocide eyed in Russia (2/5)
Terese Marie Mailhot: I guess I'm just one of those 'crazy' Indians (2/5)
Judge weighs compromise for $380M in leftover Keepseagle funds (2/5)
Blackfeet Nation welcomes movement on water rights settlement (2/5)
Yakama Nation wins decision on cost of cleaning up contamination (2/5)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe confident of casino bid despite lawsuit (2/5)
Arizona sees 6.9 percent boost in gaming contributions from tribes (2/5)
Cowlitz Tribe close to reaching agreement with city for new casino (2/5)
Schaghticoke Tribal Nation questions exclusion from casino process (2/5)
Tribal leaders question management changes at IHS in Great Plains (2/4)
IHS chief medical officer apologizes for comments about newborns (2/4)
Group sues IHS for records about water pollution on Yakama Nation (2/4)
Sen. McCain still bothered by failure to block Arizona tribe's casino (2/4)
Gun Lake Tribe announces retirement of longtime chair DK Sprague (2/4)
House Natural Resources Committee passes Indian bills at markup (2/4)
Samuel Winder: Indian defendants face harsher criminal penalties (2/4)
Charles Kader: Tribal burial grounds in Florida are being desecrated (2/4)
Roger Chelsey: Pamunkey Tribe clears last hurdle for federal status (2/4)
Reno Sparks Indian Colony mourns passing of leader William Coffey (2/4)
Native students convince school to name Indigenous People's Day (2/4)
St. Regis Mohawk Tribe supports move to Indigenous People's Day (2/4)
Coquille Tribe donates $100K to help college with health programs (2/4)
Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes help inmates reintegrate (2/4)
Little River Band hails BIA movement on off-reservation casino bid (2/4)
Lac Vieux Desert Band reopens hotel after disease scare at casino (2/4)
more headlines...

Advertisement

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.