Mealey's Native American Law

  • February 20, 2020

    Tribe Says Settlement Will End Supreme Court Case Over Bankruptcy Row

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Tribal parties in a year-old U.S. Supreme Court case asking whether Congress abrogated tribal sovereign immunity in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code received a ninth extension of their response brief deadline Feb. 12 after telling the court that a settlement of the dispute is awaiting a bankruptcy court’s final approval (Buchwald Capital Advisors, LLC v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, et al., No. 18-1218, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 19, 2020

    Tribal Appeals Court Affirms Denial Of Dismissal In Tribe’s Trespass Action

    BAYFIELD, Wis. — A Native American appeals court has jurisdiction over a tribal court’s denial of a motion to dismiss the tribe’s trespass claims against a local phone company, and the tribal court properly rejected the denial bid, the appeals court held Feb. 4 (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. CenturyTel of the Midwest-Kendall, LLC, No. 19-APP-02, Red Cliff Band App.).

  • February 19, 2020

    MDL Panel Won’t Vacate Remand Of Cherokee, City Opioid Cases

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Feb. 5 denied a motion by 30 opioid defendants to vacate the panel’s remand of two opioid cases brought by the Cherokee Nation and San Francisco (In Re:  National Prescription Opiate Litigation, MDL Docket No. 2804, JPMDL).

  • February 18, 2020

    Tribal Members Not Entitled To Attorney Fees In Trust Row, 10th Circuit Says

    DENVER — Indian tribal members who succeeded in getting the U.S. government to provide an accounting of the tribe’s mineral rights trust are not entitled to have the government pay their attorney fees because the United States’ position during the 15-year-long litigation was “substantially justified,” the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 14 (William S. Fletcher, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 16-5050, 10th Cir.).

  • February 13, 2020

    Tribe Says It’s Clear That Congress Never Reduced Size Of Oklahoma Reservation

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The actions of Congress and the “fundamental principles of statutory construction” show that the size of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation have never been reduced over the years, the tribe tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a Feb. 11 amicus curiae brief (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup.).

  • February 13, 2020

    Juul Pushed E-Cigarettes On Indian Tribes, House Subcommittee Reports

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The maker of Juul electronic cigarettes specifically targeted Native Americans in its goal of having cigarette smokers switch to e-cigarettes, and its efforts aimed at Indians was more pervasive than previously known, a U.S. House subcommittee reported Feb. 5.

  • February 12, 2020

    Judge Denies Dismissal Of Indians’ Latest Claims Against North Dakota Voter ID Law

    BISMARCK, N.D. — An Indian tribe and tribal members state valid claims in an amended complaint that North Dakota’s voter ID law violates federal law and the U.S. Constitution, a federal judge determined Feb. 10 in declining the state’s request to dismiss the claims (Spirit Lake Tribe, et al. v. Alvin Jaeger, No. 1:18-cv-00222, D. N.D., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22162).

  • February 12, 2020

    House Subcommittee Says Juul May Reintroduce Kid-Friendly Vaping Flavors

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Democratic members of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy on Feb. 5 released an update on the committee’s e-cigarette investigation, stating that Juul Labs Inc. (JLI) said that it may reintroduce “kid-friendly” flavors in the future and may be making claims about its devices’ “safety and efficacy without the legal authorization to do so.”

  • February 11, 2020

    White House Budget Includes $112.1M For Native American Water Rights Settlements

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Trump administration’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget proposal includes $112.1 million for Native American water rights settlements, according to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

  • February 11, 2020

    D.C. Circuit Says With Artifacts Destroyed By Pipeline Work, Tribe Lacks Standing

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 7 dismissed a tribal historic office’s efforts to challenge construction of a natural gas pipeline across tribal lands, saying the office lost its standing when the pipeline work destroyed more than 20 ceremonial stone features the office was trying to protect (Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, No. 19-1009, D.C. Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3766).

  • February 11, 2020

    Tribal Company Says California Lacks Jurisdiction Over Its Sales To Another Tribe

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian wholesale tobacco company in New York asks the U.S. Supreme Court to review a California appeals court holding that the state has jurisdiction to regulate the company’s sales to a tribe in California in a petition for certiorari docketed Feb. 6 (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 450).

  • February 07, 2020

    Claims That Son Died Due To Navajo Police Inaction Plausibly Stated, Judge Says

    PHOENIX — There are sufficient allegations to survive a motion to dismiss a mother’s claims that an Indian police department’s lack of response to calls for help caused the death of her son, an Arizona federal judge determined Feb. 5 (Ruby Charley v. United States, No. 19-08239, D. Ariz., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18767).

  • February 07, 2020

    Congress Never Made Reservation Smaller, Criminal Defendant Argues

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — It is clear from a lack of action by Congress that the boundaries of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation reservation have never been reduced over the years, such that Oklahoma doesn’t have jurisdiction to prosecute a tribal member for sexual molestation of children, the member tells the U.S. Supreme Court in his Feb. 4 opening brief on the merits (Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, No. 18-9526, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 433).

  • February 06, 2020

    Tribe, Tribal Officials Take Adverse Immunity Ruling To High Court

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that tribal sovereign immunity does not protect tribal officials from a casino development company’s fraud and racketeering claims warrants U.S. Supreme Court review because it goes against real-party-in-interest jurisprudence, a California tribe and its officials tell the high court in a Jan. 30 petition for certiorari (Angela James, et al. v. JW Gaming Development, LLC, No. 19-971, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 404).

  • February 05, 2020

    Lack Of Standing Dooms Claims Over Tribes’ Water Rights In Oregon

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — Ranchers in Oregon cannot challenge two protocols governing tribal water rights in the Klamath Basin because they lack the standing, having failed to show that the protocols caused them harm, a federal judge determined Jan. 31 (Gerald H. Hawkins, et al. v. David L. Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-1498, D. D.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16626).

  • February 04, 2020

    Company’s Oyster Fishing Halted For Stepping On Tribe’s Treaty Rights

    SEATTLE — A Washington oyster company must temporarily halt all activities on certain shellfish beds until permanent injunctive relief is determined for its violations of an implementation plan for an Indian tribe’s treaty rights to harvest shellfish, a federal judge ruled Jan. 31 (United States, et al. v. Washington, et al., No. 2:70-cv-09213, subproceeding Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Gold Coast Oyster LLC, et al., No. 2:89-sp-312 [shellfish], W.D. Wash., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17026).

  • February 03, 2020

    South Dakota Agency Settles Claims It Discriminated Against Indian Job Seekers

    RAPID CITY, S.D. — The South Dakota Department of Social Services (DSS) will pay $350,000 in back pay and other monetary relief to 60 Native American job applicants under a settlement approved Jan. 30 by a South Dakota federal judge of claims by the United States that the DSS discriminated against Indian job seekers (United States v. South Dakota Department of Social Services, No. 5:15-cv-05079, W.D. S.D.).

  • February 03, 2020

    Supreme Court Asked To Decide Cherokee Land-Into-Trust Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court should reinstitute an injunction barring the Department of the Interior (DOI) from taking 76 acres of land within the historic Cherokee Nation reservation into trust for a Cherokee band, the Cherokee Nation says in a Jan. 23 petition for a writ of certiorari (The Cherokee Nation v. David Bernhardt, et al., No. 19-937, U.S. Sup., 2020 U.S. S. CT. BRIEFS LEXIS 301).

  • January 31, 2020

    California Tribal Members Lose Once More On Appeal; Lawyer Sanctioned

    SAN DIEGO — A California appeals court on Jan. 29 again rebuffed attempts by tribal members to have them declared leaders of the tribe so it can receive gaming revenue funding from the state, finding that a 2014 ruling by the court bars the latest action and that the tribal members’ attorney must pay an $850 sanction for pursuing a frivolous appeal (California Valley Miwok Tribe, et al. v. California Gambling Control Commission, No. D074339, Calif. App., Dist. 4, Div. 1).

  • January 31, 2020

    Tribe:  Cert Not Warranted For Ruling That Traffic Stop Site Is Part Of Reservation

    WASHINGTON, D.C. — With no conflicts among the top courts on the issues and no issue of exceptional importance presented, U.S. Supreme Court guidance is not needed for a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals holding that a small section of California land where an Indian tribe says the local police are illegally ticketing and targeting Indian drivers is part of the tribe’s reservation, the tribe and several members say in a Jan. 30 response to a petition for certiorari (John McMahon, et al. v. Chemehuevi Indian Tribe, et al., No. 19-820, U.S. Sup.).