Home > News > More Headlines > Reach of Supreme Court's trust rulings debated
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

Stay Connected

On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud

More Headlines

First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal 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)
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.