SCOTUSBlog: Recap of argument in self-determination suit

"No one suggested during a Supreme Court hearing that Congress had done a dumb thing in the way it has treated Indian tribes as partners (the most critical comment was that Congress had acted in a “schizophrenic” way), but sheer irrationality was what seemed to be troubling the Justices. On the one hand, Congress told the government it had to accept every contract offered by an Indian tribe to provide government services. But, on the other hand, it said every year that the government could not pay for everything it got in return. On Wednesday, the Court was trying to figure out what to do about that — other than simply handing the problem back to Congress (an option that did get discussed). The argument came in the case of Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, et al. (docket 11-551)

Congress had in mind what it considered a noble goal when it passed the Indian Self-Determination Act in 1975: it would let Indian tribes run government services for their members, taking the government’s place, and get paid for it — in full, it supposedly was understood. But, beginning in 1994, the lawmakers started an annual process of putting a spending cap on what the government would finance in the tribes’ administrative costs in running such programs. And, at least some of the time, the caps would cut off funds before some tribes got paid all they were owed."

Get the Story:
Argument recap: How to undo a dumb thing? (SCOTUSBlog 4/18)

Oral Argument Transcript:
Ramah Navajo Chapter v. Salazar (April 28, 2012)

10th Circuit Decision:
Ramah Navajo Chapter v. Salazar (May 9, 2011)

Related Stories:
Turtle Talk: Commentary on self-determination argument (4/19)
Supreme Court transcript from self-determination case (4/18)
Supreme Court set for hearing in self-determination case (4/16)
Supreme Court agrees to take up self-determination dispute (01/09)
Supreme Court puts off action on self-determination litigation (11/28)
10th Circuit sides with tribes on self-determination contracts (5/9)

Join the Conversation