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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
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:
Tim Giago: Taking a trip down memory lane with Lakota Times (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe puts hold on ethics board (4/24)
Steven Newcomb: Gradual stealing of Western Shoshone land (4/24)
John Kane: Keystone battle is about Native identity and land (4/24)
Albert Bender: Cowboys and Indians unite to fight Keystone (4/24)
Joyce Oberly: Teach all sides of tribal land theft in Oklahoma (4/24)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: Treating Native culture as a commodity (4/24)
Al Jazeera: Pascua Yaqui Tribe looks for justice under VAWA (4/24)
Northern Arapaho Tribe per cap stirs boost in local economy (4/24)
Navajo Nation Council fails to revive higher tax on junk foods (4/24)
Graton Rancheria defends decision to pave over historic site (4/24)
North Dakota commission backs power line opposed by tribes (4/24)
Former Cedarville Rancheria leader back in court for murders (4/24)
Florida court rejects tribal jurisdiction in child custody dispute (4/24)
South Dakota Tribal Relations Secretary to step down from job (4/24)
Yakama Nation sues to put a stop to tours on sacred mountain (4/24)
CSKT firm lands $1.8M contract to provide military equipment (4/24)
Indiana settles lawsuit over religious rights of Indian inmates (4/24)
District leaders on Tohono O'odham Nation removed over theft (4/24)
Morongo Band announces partnership for Internet poker game (4/24)
Snoqualmie Tribe seeks repayment of investment in Fiji casino (4/24)
Tunica-Biloxi Tribe expected to miss second gaming payment (4/24)
Judge won't block construction of Jamul Indian Village casino (4/24)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe awaits decision in gaming lawsuit (4/24)
Native Sun News: Oglala student makes name as young writer (4/23)
Mark Trahant: Budget predictions at the Indian Health Service (4/23)
Zoltán Grossman: Cowboy Indian Alliance rides in Washington (4/23)
Gyasi Ross: Stop Keystone XL Pipeline and protect homelands (4/23)
Videos: Cowboy Indian Alliance protests Keystone XL Pipeline (4/23)
Steve Russell: Indians often seen an obstacle to government (4/23)
Mary Pember: Ojibwe women rise to protect the environment (4/23)
Brent Cahwee: Shoni Schimmel brings her show to the WNBA (4/23)
Malcolm Benally: Some Navajo leaders clueless on mascots (4/23)
Jacoby Ellsbury makes strong debut with New York Yankees (4/23)
Washington team owner says he 'understands' Indian issues (4/23)
Gathering of Nations ready for annual powwow and pageant (4/23)
Paskenta Band suspends family during contentious meeting (4/23)
Navajo family sues restaurant over drunken driving deaths (4/23)
Crushplate: 10 disturbing facts about Indian Country health (4/23)
North Dakota tribe ranks high among energy producers in US (4/23)
WXPR: Forest County Potawatomi Tribe taps green energy (4/23)
Opinion: Tribal members challenge California taxation rules (4/23)
Supreme Court allows ban on affirmative action in Michigan (4/23)
Turtle Talk: No word from Supreme Court on Bay Mills case (4/23)
ICT interview with Ernie Stevens of NIGA on racist mascots (4/23)
Jamul Band rejects claim about burial ground at casino site (4/23)
Stockbridge-Munsee Band sends $1M casino application fee (4/23)
Ho-Chunk Nation seeks road grant for off-reservation casino (4/23)
Teacher resigns after arrest for theft at Poarch Creek casino (4/23)
Native Sun News: Sisseton Wahpeton fighter gets big chance (4/22)
Native Sun News: Pine Ridge man behind Revolution Couture (4/22)
CDC reports show high death rates among Native Americans (4/22)
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.