Tribal homeland security legislation in limbo
Thursday, January 29, 2004

A bill that would enable tribes to become full partners in securing and protecting America's homelands is in limbo in the Senate.

S.578 would amend the Homeland Security Act of 2002 by recognizing the ability of tribes to arrest non-Indians. Tribal leaders and supporters in the Senate, including Ben Nighthorse Campbell of Colorado and Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, say tribal criminal jurisdiction would extend only to those suspected of terrorist activities.

But anti-Indian groups say the bill would overturn the Supreme Court's Oliphant v. Suquamish decision, which held that tribes lack criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians absent treaty or Congressional authorization. Even the Department of Justice believes the provision goes too far.

Pat Zell, the Democratic staff director for the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, told The Washington Times that the bill might be re-introduced this year with some changes. The committee held a hearing on it last year but it never made it to the floor.

Get the Story:
Indians want jurisdiction to combat terrorism threat (The Washington Times 1/25)

Get the Bill:
Tribal Government Amendments to the Homeland Security Act of 2002 (S.578)

Relevant Documents:
Witness List (July 30, 2003)

Related Stories:
Bill's tribal jurisdiction provisions contested (07/31)
Tribes air homeland security concerns (7/30)
DOJ's Supreme Court brief backs sovereignty (7/30)
Tribal jurisdiction faces test before Supreme Court (07/03)
Homeland security push leaves tribes behind (05/12)
Inouye ties sovereignty to homeland security (02/25)

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