indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439   fax: 202 318 2182
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Reach of Supreme Court's trust rulings debated
MONDAY, APRIL 14, 2003

Recent Supreme Court rulings on the federal trust responsibility will not stand the test of time, a leading Indian law expert said last week.

Reid Peyton Chambers, a former government official now in private practice, blamed the court's lack of consistency on its deep divisions. Speaking at an Indian law conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he said the court's trust decisions defy logic and fact.

"The Supreme Court is not always right," he said on Thursday. "We know that. We've dealt with heartbreaking decisions in Indian law in the last 15 or 20 years."

Chambers singled out last month's Navajo Nation decision in which the justices struck down a $600 million breach of trust claim. He said the court ignored clear evidence that the Department of Interior cheated the tribe out of its coal royalties.

"What happened in the Navajo case was a shame," he said of secret meetings between a former Interior secretary and an industry lobbyist. "Any child knows that that's shameful."

Agreeing with the sentiments was Dan Rey-Bear, an attorney who worked on the Navajo Nation's case. Although he wasn't speaking on behalf of the tribe, he cited ten major "deficiencies" with the court's March 4 ruling and said the court's six-member majority wrongly pitted the federal trust responsibility against tribal self-determination.

Indian law commentators have criticized the Navajo ruling but they point out that court did not disturb two important precedents outlined by the Mitchell I and Mitchell II cases of the early 1980s. When read with a decision in favor of the White Mountain Apache Tribe's $14 million claim, they said the outcome was not as bad as some feared.

"It was clearly the government's hope that the Supreme Court would go back and do something to Mitchell," argued Howie Arnett, an attorney who won a recent $14 million award for the Warm Springs Tribes of Oregon.

In 2001, the Bush administration asked the Supreme Court to review the Navajo Nation and White Mountain cases, charging that lower courts wrongly extended the Mitchell framework. But Aurene Martin, the acting assistant secretary for Indian affairs, said last month's rulings won't have a major impact.

"Both those cases are of limited effect because every case is so fact-specific with regard to the tribe that's involved and the statutory scheme that we're going to be analyzing," she told conference attendees.

While the Navajo Nation's claim against the United States has ended, the tribe is continuing its suit against Peabody Energy, the largest coal company in the world. An appeals court today will hear oral arguments affecting how the case will proceed.

With its 5-4 decision in hand, the White Mountain Apache Tribe is also returning to court to collect the money it is owed. The tribe is trying to protect an historic fort on the reservation from waste.

The Bush administration has appealed the Warm Springs award while at the same time seeking a delay. Depending on its stance, the Department of Justice will finally submit an opening brief to the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals this month or next, nearly a year after the judgment was handed down.

Supreme Court Excerpts:
Apache Tribe| Navajo Nation

Supreme Court on Navajo Nation:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Souter]

Supreme Court on White Mountain Apache Tribe:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Thomas]

Related Decisions:
Mitchell I: UNITED STATES v. MITCHELL, 445 U.S. 535 (1980)
Mitchell II: UNITED STATES v. MITCHELL, 463 U.S. 206 (1983)

Related Stories:
Navajo Nation back in court over Peabody lease (4/8)
Effects of Supreme Court decision debated (03/07)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)
Court considers Navajo dispute (12/3)
U.S. pressed on trust duties (12/3)
Supreme Court takes on trust (12/2)
Review disputes 'costly' Indian trust litigation (10/21)
Peabody sides with Bush administration on trust (09/04)
U.S. argues limits as trustee (8/9)
Breach of trust case brings $13.8M (7/3)
Court to decide limits of trust duty (4/23)
Supreme Court taking on trust (4/22)
Leave no Apache school behind (3/29)
Apache Tribe wins trust case appeal (5/17)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe battles uranium mine (4/18)
Clara Caufield: BIA audits Northern Cheyenne police force (4/18)
10th Circuit affirms conviction for murder of Arapaho man (4/18)
Jay Daniels: Cobell settlement was flawed from beginning (4/18)
Dwanna Robertson: Muscogee Nation returns to homeland (4/18)
Peter d'Errico: Washington team makes colonial invasion (4/18)
Northern Arapaho Tribe receives $157M trust settlement (4/18)
Agua Caliente Band leaseholders seek $7M in tax refunds (4/18)
Oneida Nation sends $11M to county as part of settlement (4/18)
JPR: Klamath Tribes want Congress to approve water deal (4/18)
Judge dismisses Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe election suit (4/18)
ASU News: Navajo students enjoy learning their language (4/18)
Former NFL player jailed for DUI on Salt River Reservation (4/18)
BIA advances off-reservation casino projects in California (4/18)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe reportedly operating casino at net loss (4/18)
Cherokee Nation to break ground on new hotel with casino (4/18)
Shoshone-Bannock Tribes not planing to offer poker games (4/18)
Arizona tribes close to $1B mark in gaming revenue sharing (4/18)
Group opposes Catawba Nation casino bid in North Carolina (4/18)
Native Sun News: Guilty verdict in death of Lower Brule boy (4/17)
Native Sun News: Paper brings home four first place awards (4/17)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Governor carries on divisive tactics (4/17)
Navajo president criticizes NIGA for withdrawing from event (4/17)
Crystal Willcuts: NFL trickster speaks with a crooked tongue (4/17)
Opinion: NFL team owner flashes money to defend racial slur (4/17)
Ten reservations account for biggest share of Cobell buyback (4/17)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe opposes megaloads through reservation (4/17)
Indian artists seek more control over popular annual market (4/17)
Panel to look into death of pregnant Indian woman in Mexico (4/17)
Lynn Valbuena returns to chairman post at San Manuel Band (4/17)
Yale University museum accused of stealing Tlingit artifacts (4/17)
Navajo Nation Council speaker still on leave amid court fight (4/17)
BIA asked to invalidate Shinnecock Nation's new constitution (4/17)
Onondaga Nation is negotiations over tobacco taxation issue (4/17)
Sen. Warren addresses Native American controversy in book (4/17)
Race relations council looking to boost efforts in border town (4/17)
Opinion: Federal recognition for Virginia tribes long overdue (4/17)
Opinion: University must eventually eliminate Ute nickname (4/17)
Appeals court in Canada rules for Metis in Indian status caes (4/17)
9th Circuit hears dispute over Redding Rancheria gaming site (4/17)
Coeur d'Alene Tribe set to launch new poker games on May 2 (4/17)
Judge hears arguments in lawsuit against Jamul Band casino (4/17)
Opinion: Poarch Creeks qualify for Class III gaming in Florida (4/17)
Opinion: Gaming interests prepare for next attack on Florida (4/17)
Native Sun News: Little Shell Tribe gets closer to recognition (4/16)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge fighter prepares for next match (4/16)
Letter from Cobell attorneys on second settlement payment (4/16)
Cobell settlement administrator responds to payment delay (4/16)
Secretary Jewell to deliver commencement address at SIPI (4/16)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | 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.