MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin federal judge on April 4 set aside defaults entered against a town and its tax assessor in an action filed by four Native American tribes seeking to stop the state and several municipalities from collecting property taxes on their reservations, finding that the tribes will not be prejudiced by reversal of the defaults (Lac Courte Oreilles Band, et al. v. Scott Walker, et al., No. 18-cv-992, W.D. Wis., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57868).
PHOENIX — An Arizona federal judge on March 26 ruled that the operator of the Central Arizona Project is obliged to deliver an extra 10,000 acre-feet of water to a Native American tribe under terms of a 1984 water rights settlement (Ak-Chin Indian Community v. Central Arizona Water Conservation District, No. 17-918, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50436).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Native American tribe filed an amicus curiae brief in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 5 arguing that a lower court’s decision, which held that the federal government’s cancellation of a hydraulic fracturing lease was “arbitrary and capricious,” was incorrect. The Trump administration also filed a brief contending that the lower court’s decision should be reversed (Solenex LLC v. David Bernhardt, et al. No. 18-5345, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of law professors on March 27 filed a revised amicus curiae brief in the District of Columbia District Court contending that the President Donald J. Trump’s decision to reduce the size of national monuments, which would allow access to land for hydraulic fracturing, was not authorized by the Antiquities Act (Hopi Tribe, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2590; Utah Diné Bikéyah, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2605; and Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Donald J. Trump, et al., No. 17-2606, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California appeals court panel on April 2 affirmed the termination of a mother’s parental rights to her young daughter after finding that the trial court properly applied the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) to determine that the girl is ineligible for tribal membership (In re D.R., San Bernardino County Children and Family Services v. J.G., No. E071397, Calif. App, 4th Dist., Div. 2, 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2291).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in directing a trial court to abstain from hearing a suit filed by tribes and tribal members challenging South Dakota’s process for removing children from their homes in emergency situations, the tribes and members argue in a March 4 petition to the U.S. Supreme Court (Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al. v. Lisa Fleming, et al., No. 18-1245, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1165).
ATLANTA — Equifax Inc. and a putative class of consumers each filed briefs in Georgia federal court on April 1, opposing a motion by three Native American tribes to establish a separate track for the tribes in the centralized multidistrict litigation MDL over the 2017 Equifax data breach, arguing that the tribes have not identified any unique claims or discovery means that would necessitate a separate track (In Re: Equifax Inc., Customer Data Security Breach Litigation, No. 1:17-md-2800, N.D. Ga.).
NEW ORLEANS — Hundreds of Indian tribes, more than 50 economic scholars, a handful of constitutional law experts who in the past opposed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) and two Republican-led states said striking down the entire law simply because Congress zeroed out the individual mandate penalty lacks any historic or legal precedent while warning about the far-reaching impact doing so would have. The amici were among 21 parties filing briefs on April 1 (Texas, et al. v. U.S.A., et al., No. 19-10011, 5th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY — An Oklahoma law limiting who can sell American Indian artwork in the state is preempted by the federal Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (IACA) because the state law unconstitutionally disturbs the purpose of the IACA to promote and develop Native American art, an Oklahoma federal judge held March 28 in awarding an Indian artist summary judgment on her challenge to the state statute (Peggy Fontenot v. Mike Hunter, No. 16-1339, W.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52859).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A full-blown consultation with American Indian tribes under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) is required before a company can operate a uranium mine in a national forest near the Grand Canyon that contains sacred Indian grounds, an Arizona tribe tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a March 21 petition for a writ of certiorari (Havasupai Tribe v. Heather C. Provencio, et al., No. 18-1239, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1157).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal magistrate judge on July 25 dismissed a couple’s excessive force claims against tribal police officers at the request of the couple, who agreed that they should pursue their claims in tribal court (Robert Lewis, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 3:18-cv-05196, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49937).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court need not review a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ holding that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) does not authorize the transfer of jurisdiction from tribal courts to state courts for tort claims arising from a gaming operation because of the limited nature of the ruling, a tribe and its casino business argue in a March 13 response brief (Harold McNeal, et ux. v. Navajo Nation, et al., 18-894, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1010).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska’s Nation River is not public land under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) and is exempt, as is all other nonpublic land in the state’s national parks, from the usual regulatory authority of the National Park Service (NPS), a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court held March 26 (John Sturgeon v. Bert Frost, et al., No. 17-949, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 2294).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court has been asked to decide whether Congress clearly abrogated tribal sovereign immunity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in a petition for a writ of certiorari docketed March 20 from creditors asserting fraudulent transfer claims against a Michigan Indian tribe and its gaming business (Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, et al., No. 18-1218, U.S. Sup.).
PASADENA, Calif. — In an issue of first impression, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 21 that the language of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) allows time limits to be placed on tribal-state gaming compacts (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al. v. Gavin Newsom, et al., No. 17-55604, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 8343).
NEWARK, N.J. — Two Indian tribes in New Jersey should be allowed to amend their complaint against a township because they state valid and ripe claims that the township discriminated against them by forcing them to stop holding religious ceremonies on their land, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says in a March 18 statement of interest filed in New Jersey federal court (Ramapough Mountain Indians, Inc., et al. v. Mahwah Township, et al., No. 2:18-cv-9228, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington Indian tribe does not have to pay the state’s fuel tax on gasoline it hauls into the state to its reservation because subjecting the tribe to the tax would violate its treaty right to travel unburdened on public roads, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled March 19 in a 5-4 decision (Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., No. 16-1498, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 2086 ).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — On the heels of a February determination that the state of New York may proceed with allegations that two Indian enterprises violated federal and state law by running a contraband cigarette ring, defendants in the case moved March 12 for a stay (New York v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd., et al., No. 14-cv-910, W.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Texas Indian tribe suffered another defeat in its battle to conduct gaming on its land when the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals agreed March 14 that a 1987 statute barring gambling on the tribe’s land takes precedent over a 2015 National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC) opinion that gaming is allowed on the land under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) (Texas v. Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas, No. 18-40116, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7559).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California tribal court has jurisdiction to hear fraud claims against the former tribal administrator, who is not a member of the tribe, due to the tribe’s “inherent sovereign power” and its regulatory authority, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 13 (Duanna Knighton v. Cedarville Rancheria of Northern Paiute Indians, et al., No. 17-15515, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7366).