Mealey's Native American Law

  • May 05, 2021

    Tribe: Federal Court’s Ruling For Insurer On ERISA Claims Demands Reversal

    CINCINNATI — A Michigan federal court impermissibly rewrote federal regulations to find that a Blue Cross Blue Shield insurer did not violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by failing to pay Medicare-like rates for hospital services under a health care plan for tribal members, the tribe says in a May 3 brief on appeal for the second time in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

  • May 04, 2021

    New York Tribe Says Cert Not Warranted For Property Tax Dispute With County

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no split among controlling precedents and no threat of far-reaching impacts, a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that a New York Indian tribe’s sovereign immunity shields it from a county’s attempt to foreclose on the tribe’s land for unpaid property taxes does not need to be reviewed, the tribe tells the U.S. Supreme in a May 3 response brief.

  • May 03, 2021

    Michigan Tribe Petitions For Hearing Over Great Lakes Pipeline Tunnel Permit

    LANSING, Mich. — A Native American tribe filed a petition April 26 with the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) seeking a hearing on and revocation of a permit allowing construction of a tunnel underneath the lakes for a replacement oil and natural gas pipeline.

  • April 30, 2021

    Supreme Court Sets 2nd Conference Date For Tribal Church Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court said April 27 it will soon consider whether to grant the petition of a Florida church and nearly 100 church members asking whether provisions of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE Act) are unconstitutional and whether an Indian tribe has sovereign immunity from the petitioners’ claims.

  • April 30, 2021

    9th Circuit Again Reverses, Remands Navajo Breach Of Trust Claim Over Water Rights

    PASADENA, Calif. — A 1964 U.S. Supreme Court decree establishing water rights to the Colorado River does not strip a federal court of jurisdiction to decide the Navajo Nation’s breach of trust claim against the Department of the Interior (DOI) for allegedly mismanaging the tribe’s water resources, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 28 in reversing and remanding so the tribe can amend its complaint.

  • April 29, 2021

    Indian Woman Brings McGirt Defense To High Court Over Arrests By Local Police

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should decide whether its reservation boundary and criminal jurisdiction ruling in McGirt v. Oklahoma applies to a Native American woman’s arrests on a Michigan reservation by county police because the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals declined to address the question, the woman says in her April 19 petition for certiorari.

  • April 29, 2021

    Senate Votes To Disapprove Trump Administration’s Change To Methane Rule

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate voted 52-42 to pass Senate Joint Resolution 14, which reverses the decision the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made in the waning days of the Trump administration that rescinded the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule.

  • April 28, 2021

    Judge Keeps Status Quo In Tribes’ Challenge To CARES Act Funding

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on April 26 denied injunctive relief to an Indian tribe seeking to expedite payment of coronavirus relief aid from last year after the tribe chalked up a win on appeal, saying the Treasury Department will soon announce a revised method for allocating the funds.

  • April 27, 2021

    Judge Finds Reservation Murder Meets Criteria For Federal Prosecution

    PIERRE, S.D. — A federal judge on April 20 declined to dismiss a two-count indictment of a tribal member accused of killing his horseshoes companion by mistake on a South Dakota Indian reservation, finding that the court has jurisdiction over the murder and weapons charges under the Major Crimes Act (MCA).

  • April 27, 2021

    South Carolina Tribe, DOI Awarded Judgment In Challenges To Casino Approvals

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia federal judge on April 16 dealt South Carolina’s only federally recognized Indian tribe a complete win in its efforts to build a casino in North Carolina, awarding it summary judgment on all claims of two other tribes that were seeking to halt the project.

  • April 26, 2021

    In Federal Suit, Pueblo Says It Has Jurisdiction Over Casino Slip-And-Fall Case

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A casino patron’s slip-and-fall personal injury suit against a New Mexico Indian tribe belongs in tribal court, not state court, under federal law and the tribe’s gaming compact with the state, the tribe says in an April 23 federal complaint seeking a declaration that a state court erred in finding that it has jurisdiction to hear the dispute.

  • April 20, 2021

    D.C. Circuit Affirms Win For DOI, Rancheria In Suit Over Casino Land Deal

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior (DOI) “followed all of its statutory and regulatory obligations” when it decided to take land into trust in California so an Indian tribe can build a casino at the site, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 16 in affirming summary judgment to the DOI.

  • April 19, 2021

    Federal Government, Alaska Corporations, Tribes Debate CARES Act Text In High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Whether Congress would have included Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) in last year’s federal COVID-19 relief funding package without intending for them to receive any money meant for Indian tribes was an oft-repeated query during U.S. Supreme Court oral argument April 19 in a case over the ANCs’ entitlement to the tribal funding.

  • April 15, 2021

    Inmate’s Suit Against Tribal Officers For Casino Arrest Dismissed By Federal Judge

    SOUTH BEND, Ind. — A man who was arrested and charged on suspicion of passing counterfeit money at a tribal casino cannot pursue federal illegal search and seizure claims against the officers who arrested him because tribal police acting under tribal authority cannot be held individually liable for alleged constitutional violations, an Indiana federal judge ruled April 9, dismissing the man’s suit but with leave to amend.

  • April 14, 2021

    California Tribe Faces Class Complaint Over Businesses’ Lending Practices

    RICHMOND, Va. — Two Virginia men filed a class action April 13 against officials of a California Indian tribe seeking to void allegedly usurious loans they received from the tribe’s businesses and hold the officials liable for racketeering and conspiracy.

  • April 14, 2021

    D.C. Circuit Upholds HHS Win In Tribe’s Bid For Extra Health Care Funds

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Washington Indian tribe is not entitled to receive contract support costs from the Department of Health and Human Services for money the tribe collects from insurers for health care services based on the language of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEEA), the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 13, affirming judgment in favor of HHS.

  • April 13, 2021

    Widow Of Pastor In Tribal Church Row Sees No Reason For High Court Review

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The lower courts properly relied on the doctrine of ecclesiastical abstention in refusing to decide a church leadership dispute involving the Seminole Tribe of Florida, and doing otherwise would have gone against U.S. Supreme Court precedents, a pastor’s widow says in an April 8 brief in opposition filed at the high court’s request.

  • April 13, 2021

    Federal Government, Alaska Corporations Make Final CARES Act Funding Arguments

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska Native corporations (ANCs) are eligible to be treated as Indian tribes under last year’s federal COVID-19 relief funding measure, and stopping them from receiving $162.3 million set aside for tribal governments “would have devastating consequences for Alaska and its natives,” the U.S. Treasury secretary and ANCs tell the U.S. Supreme Court in April 9 final reply briefs before oral argument.

  • April 12, 2021

    Allotted Indian Parcels Can Be Taxed If Sold To Non-Indians, Federal Judge Rules

    MADISON, Wis. — Indian property that is owned by an Indian is not taxable by Wisconsin and its municipalities, although Indian property that was once sold to a non-Indian is still subject to taxation, even when the property is sold back to an Indian, a federal judge held April 9 in deciding the tax dispute on cross-motions for summary judgment.

  • April 09, 2021

    Biden Administration Halts Sale Of Archives Building To Seek Input From Tribes

    SEATTLE — Due to the change in presidential administrations, a federal executive agency on April 8 withdrew approval of the sale of the national archives building in Seattle so it can discuss the proposal with Native American tribes, dozens of which recently received an injunction in Washington federal court to halt the sale.

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