Supreme Court offers split victory on trust
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled for one tribe but against another in two closely-watched breach of trust cases.

In a 6-3 ruling, the justices said the Navajo Nation failed to show the existence of a fiduciary relationship between the tribe and the federal government. The tribe said Department of Interior breached its trust responsibility by approving a coal lease with less than favorable terms. An estimated $600 million was at stake.

A 5-4 ruling upheld the White Mountain Apache Tribe's suit. The court said a 1960 law created a fiduciary relationship that, when breached, mandates money damages. As much as $14 million has been claimed.

Both cases arose from the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court had ruled 2-1 in favor of the tribes.

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Supreme Court Splits Tribal Rights Suits (AP 3/4)

Navajo Nation | Apache Tribe

Navajo Nation:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Souter]

White Mountain Apache Tribe:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Thomas]

Relevant Links:
U.S. Supreme Court -
Navajo Nation -
White Mountain Apache Tribe -

Related Stories:
Supreme Court issues trust decisions (3/4)
Panel predicts Apache victory (12/4)
Court considers Navajo dispute (12/3)
U.S. pressed on trust duties (12/3)