Home > News > More Headlines > Showdown looms in tribal sovereignty case
Printer friendly version
Showdown looms in tribal sovereignty case

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.

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

Native Sun News: Family questions FBI on reservation death (11/25)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud students earn top scholarship (11/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Making a difference for people on Pine Ridge (11/25)
Yurok Tribe: Mourning the passing of 'visionary' Troy Fletcher (11/25)
Ned Blackhawk: Supreme Court case jeopardizes tribal rights (11/25)
Steve Russell: The real origins of the world's terrorism crisis (11/25)
Ramona Peters: Sharing a Wampanoag story of Thanksgiving (11/25)
Yatibaey Evans: Let's all teach the truth about Native history (11/25)
Martie Simmons: Every Native parent dreads this time of year (11/25)
Eric Metaxas: The 'miracle' of Squanto and first Thanksgiving (11/25)
Presidential Medal of Freedom presented to late Billy Frank Jr (11/25)
Oneida Nation opens first branch location of tribal-owned bank (11/25)
Virginia tribes continue to pay tribute required by 1677 treaty (11/25)
Chukchansi Tribe reaches new agreement for shuttered casino (11/25)
Poarch Band to welcome visitors to $65M expansion at casino (11/25)
Stillaguamish Tribe debuts eatery and microbrewery at casino (11/25)
Connecticut tribes consider proposals for third gaming facilty (11/25)
Mark Pilarski: Why are games different at some tribal casinos? (11/25)
Tribes seek support for Native language instruction programs (11/24)
Rep. Mullin confirms divisions in Indian Country on Carcieri fix (11/24)
President Obama to award Medal of Freedom to Billy Frank Jr. (11/24)
Sault Tribe pushes for passage of Tribal Labor Sovereignty Act (11/24)
Lakota Country Times: Charles Trimble recognized for writings (11/24)
Native Sun News Editorial: Some new names in Indian Country (11/24)
Jim Kent: South Dakota lands in the news again for corruption (11/24)
John Yellowbird Steele: Bill tries to hijack recognition process (11/24)
Albert Bender: 'The Green Inferno' hits new low in racist films (11/24)
Peter d'Errico: Anti-Indian wars continue in US Supreme Court (11/24)
Anne Keala Kelly: US government wants to steal Hawaii again (11/24)
Counties ask Supreme Court to hear Ute Tribe boundary case (11/24)
Shinnecock Nation considers entering medical marijuana field (11/24)
USDA policy eases return of traditional food to tribal facilities (11/24)
Sitka Tribe asks FBI to consider racial bias in student's arrest (11/24)
Court sides with Indian inmates over closure of sweat lodge (11/24)
Former employee accused of cheating Grand Traverse Band (11/24)
Tribes with special acts of Congress face hurdles for gaming (11/24)
Enterprise Rancheria addresses concerns about gaming site (11/24)
Mohegan Tribe signs partner for $5B casino proposal in Korea (11/24)
Bart Hinkle: States trying to protect their gaming monopolies (11/24)
Blackfeet Nation wins ruling against development at sacred site (11/23)
Center for Native American Youth hires new executive director (11/23)
Quinault Nation slams approval of genetically modified salmon (11/23)
Native Sun News: Great Plains people key in defeating Keystone (11/23)
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.