Law | Politics | Trust

Bills introduced to fix Supreme Court land-into-trust decision

Legislation has been introduced in the 112th Congress to fix to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar.

The decision states that the Bureau of Indian Affairs can only place land in trust for tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" in 1934. A fix ensures that all tribes, regardless of the date of recognition, can benefit from the process.

"This legislation is necessary for the United States government to fulfill its trust responsibility towards tribes and Native peoples," Sen. Daniel Akaka (D-Hawaii), the chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee said in a press release. "If Congress does not act, the Carcieri ruling will, in effect, create two classes of tribes – those who can have lands taken into trust and those who cannot.

Akaka introduced S.676 in the Senate yesterday. The bill has seven co-sponsors, all Democrats.

Rep. Dale Kildee (D-Michigan), the co-chairman of the House Native American Caucus, introduced the same version of the fix in the House. H.R.1234 amends the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 to resolve the Supreme Court issue.

"The Supreme Court’s literal interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act ignores the congressional intent of the original legislation and would reverse years of progress. By clarifying the language of the Indian Reorganization Act, we will put to rest any question as to the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to take land into trust for tribes," Kildee said in a press release. "This legislation will uphold the original intent of the IRA and ensure that all federally recognized tribes are able to utilize the land trust process, regardless of when they were recognized."

Kildee's bill does not currently have any co-sponsors.

Supreme Court Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Thomas] | Concurrence [Breyer] | Dissent [Stevens] | Concurrence/Dissent [Souter]

Related Stories:
White House aide vows support for fix to land-into-trust decision (3/1)
Land-into-trust fix in limbo amid dispute on appropriations bill (12/17)

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