Supreme Court asks Kialegee Tribal Town for casino case brief

Artist's rendering of the what was to be the Red Clay Casino on an Indian allotment in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. Image from Kialegee Tribal Town

The U.S. Supreme Court has asked the Kialegee Tribal Town of Oklahoma to submit a brief in a gaming dispute.

The tribe waived its right to respond to the petition in Oklahoma v. Hobia. That's not unusual, particularly in cases where a party believes the high court isn't interested in taking up the matter.

But the justices appear somewhat interested since they asked the tribe to submit a brief. Their request isn't unusual either -- it happened in a 2008 case when the state of Texas declined to respond to a petition filed by the Kickapoo Tribe that was eventually rejected.

At issue is whether the state of Oklahoma can sue the Kialegee Tribal Town and its leaders for proposing to open a casino on an Indian allotment. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals gave a clear answer: No, because the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not waive immunity for activities that occur outside of "Indian lands."

Attorney General Scott Pruitt is hoping the Supreme Court will overturn that decision. But he's facing a big hurdle because the justices ruled on a very similar matter in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community, a decision that was cited by the 10th Circuit as precedent.

The tribe's response is due June 10, according to Docket Sheet No. 14-1177. The state will then be able to file another reply before the petition is presented to the justices for review.

The tribe has since dropped plans for the casino on the allotment. A developer has said a new site has been chosen but no announcements have been made.

The influential SCOTUSBlog listed Oklahoma v. Hobia as its petition of the day on Friday.

10th Circuit Decision:
Oklahoma v. Hobia (December 22, 2014)

NIGC Indian Land Opinions:
May 25, 2012 | June 8, 2012

Supreme Court Decision:
Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community (May 27, 2014)

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