indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines

Printer friendly version
Supreme Court asked to rule on tribal jurisdiction
THURSDAY, MAY 29, 2003

The Supreme Court is meeting today to consider accepting a case involving tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

Three former employees of a health clinic located on the Navajo Reservation in Utah want a tribal court to hear their claims. The plaintiffs, who are non-Indian, allege they were wrongfully terminated. They also lodged several other claims against San Juan County and San Juan Health Services, a special political district created by the state.

In a far-reaching December 1999 ruling, Navajo District Judge Raymond Begaye sided with the plaintiffs. He reinstated their jobs, ordered back pay, barred senior clinic managers from entering the reservation and imposed $10,000 in daily fines on the state and some of the attorneys involved in the case.

At the time of Begaye's decision, the clinic was run by the state and funded by a state-managed Navajo trust fund. The Navajo Nation has since taken over the clinic but the dispute has yet to be resolved.

The case ended up in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Dale A. Kimball -- after concluding that Begaye's ruling was "nonsensical" and "ludicrous" -- threw out the plaintiffs' claims based on state sovereign immunity.

The plaintiffs then sought review by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals but weren't successful here either. Calling the case "a procedural quagmire marked by a profound lack of clarity," a unanimous three-judge panel also refused to recognize the tribal court's authority but not for the reasons Kimball stated.

"[I]t is a long leap, and one we are unwilling to take, to suggest that the action taken by the Navajo court in this case was necessary to protect Navajo self-government or control its internal relations," Circuit Judge Carlos Lucero wrote last October.

In making its ruling, the 10th Circuit relied in part on Nevada v. Hicks, a 2001 Supreme Court case involving competing state and tribal sovereigns. The judges said there was "heavy presumption" against tribal jurisdiction.

The Hicks ruling has been heavily criticized in Indian Country as an infringement on tribal rights. Citing the case, tribal leaders are seeking legislation to restore tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians.

The ruling was also at the center of a closely-watched Supreme Court case that was decided last week. In Inyo County v. Bishop Paiute Tribe, the justices were asked to consider whether state police powers extend to tribal governments. The question was left open as the case was decided on other grounds.

The dispute being considered by the Supreme Court is actually a combination of three appeals involving the plaintiffs, San Juan Health Services and San Juan County. The Navajo Nation is not a party to the litigation.

The Supreme Court's decision whether to take the case will be announced next week. If accepted, it will likely be heard by the end of the year.

Get the Case:
MACARTHUR v. SAN JUAN HEALTH SERVICES DISTRICT No. 014001 - 10/07/02 (10th Cir. October 7, 2002)

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: Riggs v. San Juan County | Docket Sheet: San Juan County v. Riggs | Docket Sheet: San Juan Health Services v. Riggs

Relevant Links:
Navajo Nation - http://www.navajo.org

Related Stories:
Supreme Court rebuffs tribe in immunity case (5/20)
It could have been a lot worse for Indian Country (5/20)
Appeals court won't recognize tribal authority (10/15)
Tribes rally in support of sovereignty (10/8)
Tribes seek to overturn Supreme Court (2/27)
Inouye challenges tribes on sovereignty (2/26)
Tribe wants jurisdiction over clinic (01/15)
Supreme Court bars state officials from tribal suit (6/26)
O'Connor defends tribes amidst squabbling (6/26)

Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: North Dakota takes on impacts of energy boom (1/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux man calls on US to honor its word (1/26)
Steven Newcomb: Supreme Court decision influenced by religion (1/26)
Mateo Romero: Era of white American male rule coming to an end (1/26)
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation mourns passing of Gary Mitchell (1/26)
Editorial: Alaska tribe makes tough decision to banish bad actors (1/26)
Editorial: Battle against Poarch Creek casinos is a waste of time (1/26)
Native Sun News: Montana basketball legend gives back to youth (1/23)
Mark Trahant: Building the new digital economy in Indian Country (1/23)
James Giago Davies: Washington team insults the first Americans (1/23)
Gyasi Ross: Indian Country can't get enough of Seattle Seahawks (1/23)
Jay Daniels: A tribute to Crow basketball legend Elvis D. Old Bull (1/23)
Richard Thornton: People of One Fire exposing forgotten history (1/23)
NARF: Supreme Court decision impacts rights of Indian inmates (1/23)
Oglala Sioux medicine man dies awaiting trial in sex abuse case (1/23)
No charges filed for deaths of two people on Barona Reservation (1/23)
IRS placed $664K in tax liens on leader of Lower Brule Sioux Tribe (1/23)
Yellowstone National Park starts transferring bison for slaughter (1/23)
Fire in 1865 destroyed Smithsonian collection of Indian portraits (1/23)
Turtle Talk: Gaming compact cases are extremely difficult to win (1/23)
Governor rejects Menominee Nation off-reservation gaming plan (1/23)
Otoe-Missouria Tribe reaches agreement with city for new casino (1/23)
Chehalis Tribe to start work on $40M expansion of gaming facility (1/23)
Idaho lawmakers question gaming machines at non-Indian tracks (1/23)
State of Indian Nations as delivered by NCAI President Cladoosby (1/22)
Sen. Barrasso delivers response to NCAI's State of Indian Nations (1/22)
Native Sun News: Tribes step up with donations for cultural center (1/22)
Ivan Star: Indian Country must put more effort in public relations (1/22)
Steven Newcomb: Indian policy is unmistakenly linked to religion (1/22)
Harlan McKosato: Apache woman develops 'indispensible' guide (1/22)
Tristan Ahtone: Former Native gang member tries to start anew (1/22)
Q&A with Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero on 'Last Indian Market' (1/22)
Sainthood for founder of brutal California Indian mission system (1/22)
Native mayor promises to change city's reputation as most racist (1/22)
Deadline passes to appeal Fond du Lac Band land-into-trust case (1/22)
City rejects Citizen Potawatomi Nation land detachment petition (1/22)
Oklahoma lawmakers debate future of unfinished Indian museum (1/22)
Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation inaugurates Leland Kinter as chairman (1/22)
City to enter public transportation contract with Mississippi Band (1/22)
Officials in Idaho won't try to find a new name for 'Squaw Butte' (1/22)
Opinion: Blood Run landmark a place of reverence for area tribes (1/22)
Chukchansi Tribe set to run out of money for gaming per capitas (1/22)
Forest County Potawatomi Tribe sues BIA over rejected compact (1/22)
Menominee Nation expects fast action from BIA on new compact (1/22)
Some CSKT leaders question $27.4M expansion of gaming facility (1/22)
Narragansett Tribe wins litigation filed by former gaming partner (1/22)
Column: Tribes concerned about commercial casinos in New York (1/22)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux Tribe contests uranium expansion (1/21)
Clara Caufield: Run recalls days of horror for Northern Cheyenne (1/21)
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.