WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of the General Counsel (OGC) issued a legal opinion May 28 to address questions about several provisions of the 2018 Farm Bill that affect states’ and Indian tribes’ regulation of hemp production.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A New Mexico federal judge on May 29 awarded summary judgment to a tribal school nonprofit business on a former employee’s pregnancy discrimination claims after finding that the business meets the definition of “Indian tribe” for purposes of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (Kim R. Jim v. Shiprock Associated Schools, Inc., No. 17-1114, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89703).
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Assimilative Crimes Act (ACA) applies to “Indian country” subject to the three exceptions outlined in the Indian Country Crimes Act (ICCA), the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 28 in affirming a Native American’s conviction for fleeing from police twice (United States v. Johnny Ellery Smith, No. 17-30248, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15676).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Indian tribes should not be able to use sovereign immunity when it leaves non-Indians no recourse against the tribes for valid state law claims, three couples tell the U.S. Supreme Court in a May 23 reply brief, adding that the dispute presents “special justification” for high court review (Thomas Mitchell, et al. v. Tulalip Tribes of Washington, No. 18-970, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1912).
SAN DIEGO — A California Native American tribe on May 24 removed a state court personal injury action to federal court based on subject matter jurisdiction and the tribe’s Patron Tort Claims Ordinance, under which the tribe waives its sovereign immunity to tort claims, but only so they can be decided in tribal court (Georgia Micheau v. Harrah’s Resort Southern California, et al., No. 3:19-cv-00980, S.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government can collect income tax on gaming revenue distributed by a Florida Indian tribe to its members after the U.S. Supreme Court on May 28 rejected two petitions for certiorari challenging the taxation (Miccosukee Tribe of Indians v. United States, No. 18-895, Sally Jim v. United States, No. 18-891, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Denial of an Oklahoma tribe’s bid for an injunction to halt construction of another tribe’s competing casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) stands after the U.S. Supreme Court on May 28 denied certiorari in the case (Comanche Nation of Oklahoma v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 18-1261, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 28 declined to take up a challenge by foster parents in Arizona to the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in a class action, following the U.S. government’s advice that certiorari was not warranted (Carol Coghlan Carter, et al. v. Tara Katuk Mac Lean Sweeney, et al., No. 18-923, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Calling it an “internationally important case,” a Canadian industrial polluter says in a May 20 reply brief that the U.S. Supreme Court should grant its petition for certiorari and vacate a ruling that an Indian tribe is entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from the company for enforcement actions taken under federal law (Teck Metals Ltd. v. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, et al., No. 18-1160, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 21 affirmed an Indian agency’s denial of relocation assistance to a Navajo family, saying the decision was supported by “substantial evidence” (Larry K. Begay v. Office of Navajo & Hopi Indian Relocation, No. 18-15489, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 15028).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Alabama Supreme Court went against U.S. Supreme Court precedent when it held that an Indian tribe is not protected by tribal sovereign immunity from tort claims in a car crash negligence suit, but certiorari is not warranted at this time because the tribe has proposed to amend its laws to waive its immunity for such tort claims, the U.S. government says in a May 21 amicus curiae brief filed at the request of the nation’s high court (Poarch Band of Creek Indians, et al. v. Casey Marie Wilkes, et al., No. 17-1175, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1854).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that an Indian tobacco company must pay federal excise taxes on its products, despite the language of an 1855 treaty, creates a split among the circuit courts that is much more entrenched and severe than the federal government asserts, the company tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a May 20 reply brief in its quest for certiorari (King Mountain Tobacco Co., Inc. v. United States, No. 18-984, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 1891).
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan federal judge on May 20 further trimmed a Native American tribe’s claims against its health care plan administrator, finding that state Health Care False Claims Act (HCFCA) claims may proceed because the tribe has statutory standing but that a breach of fiduciary duty claim fails because it was filed too late (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, et al. v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan v. Munson Medical Center, No. 5:14-cv-11349, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84691).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The United States must pay a Japanese teenager $1.1 million for the negligence of a tribal police officer whose continued pursuit of a drunken driver caused a head-on crash that killed her parents and brother, an Arizona federal judge ruled May 17 after a bench trial (Kaori Stearney v. United States, No. 16-08060, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83445).
ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 20 declined to revisit its dismissal of a man’s federal court civil rights claims against an Indian tribe based on sovereign immunity and failure to exhaust tribal court remedies (Rudy Butch Stanko v. Oglala Sioux Tribe, et al., No. 17-3176, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 14874).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A divided U.S. Supreme Court held May 20 that the Crow Indian tribe’s treaty-guaranteed hunting rights in Wyoming survived the establishment of the state, reversing a state court finding that, based on a 1995 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling, the tribe’s treaty right expired when Wyoming was granted statehood (Clayvin B. Herrera v. Wyoming, No. 17-532, U.S. Sup., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 3538).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Arizona Indian tribe lost its bid for U.S. Supreme Court review of its challenge under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of a federal court ruling allowing a company to operate a uranium mine in a national forest near the Grand Canyon that contains sacred Indian grounds, with the high court denying certiorari in its May 20 order list (Havasupai Tribe v. Heather C. Provencio, et al., No. 18-1239, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on May 20 denied certiorari for a dispute over whether the National Labor Relations Board has jurisdiction over Native American casinos and their tribal operators (Casino Pauma v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 18-873, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A descendant of a Cherokee freedman who wants to run for the office of principal chief of the tribe lost her bid to challenge a tribal law limiting election eligibility to a Cherokee “citizen by blood” by failing to respond to the tribe’s and federal government’s motions to dismiss, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled May 14 (Rhonda Leona Brown Fleming, et al. v. The Cherokee Nation, et al., No. 18-02041, D. D.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81275).
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Attorney General’s Office issued a new policy May 10 requiring the office to get consent from Native American tribes “before initiating a program or project that directly and tangibly affects tribes, tribal rights, tribal lands and sacred sites” in what the office calls a first-of-its-kind initiative.