Business | Law

Supreme Court won't hear Yakama Nation treaty tobacco case






A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. Photo by Indianz.Com

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined a petition in Yakama Nation v. McKenna, a treaty tobacco case.

In September 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held that the King Mountain Tobacco Company, a firm based on the Yakama Nation, must comply with tobacco laws in the state of Washington. The company unsuccesfully argued that its on-reservation activities were protected by the Yakama Treaty of 1855.

King Mountain did not appeal the decision but the Yakama Nation did. A petition filed with the Supreme Court questioned whether the 9th Circuit should have imposed its interpretation of the treaty on the tribe without considering all of the evidence and findings of fact.

"[I]nstead of honoring this Court’s treaty interpretation requirements, and directing the district court to adhere to this Court’s treaty analysis precedent requiring factual determination of the Indians’ understanding of their treaty protections, the Ninth Circuit rejected treaty precedent and improperly embraced non-treaty case law in this treaty centric case," the petition stated.

The state of Washington did not file a response to the tribe's petition, according to the docket sheet for No. 14-947. That usually happens when a party feels the Supreme Court won't accept the case.

Without comment, the justices turned down the tribe's petition in an order yesterday.

9th Circuit Decision:
King Mt. Tobacco Co. v. McKenna (September 26, 2014)

Oral Arguments from the Indianz.Com SoundCloud:

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Judge tells tobacco firm on Yakama Nation to pay $58M in taxes (9/5)
9th Circuit hears case over Yakama Nation tobacco manufacturer (8/29)
Judge subjects Yakama Nation business to tobacco settlement (4/9)