WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 19 declined to take up a taxation dispute in Oklahoma involving a Native American tribe’s gambling machines over the dissent of Justice Clarence Thomas, who said the court is obligated to review the issue after creating “‘significant uncertainty’ about basic government functions” in the state with its decision in the landmark McGirt v. Oklahoma, 591 U.S. ___ (2020) (Rogers County Board of Tax Roll Corrections, et al. v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc., No. 19-1298, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Six members of the Navajo Nation do not have standing to seek an injunction forcing Arizona to extend the deadline for receiving mail-in ballots for the Nov. 3 general election because they did not show that they will be personally harmed by the normal 7 p.m. Election Day deadline, even though some tribal members face hardships when voting, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Oct. 15 (Darlene Yazzie, et al. v. Katie Hobbs, No. 20-16890, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A man facing federal drug charges tells the U.S. Supreme Court in an Oct. 15 response requested by the court that certiorari is not warranted for a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling limiting an Indian police officer’s jurisdiction in his case because the decision does not conflict with high court rulings and is not in “serious tension” with various state courts decisions, as the government argued (United States v. Joshua James Cooley, No. 19-1414, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court issued an unsigned order Oct. 13, over the dissent of one justice, allowing the 2020 census to end now rather than having the count continue to the end of the month as a lower court had ordered due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic (Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., et al. v. National Urban League, et al., No. 20A62, U.S. Sup.).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. — Johnson & Johnson on Oct. 13 announced that it will contribute an additional $1 billion to what it calls its “all-in settlement amount,” previously announced for $4 billion, to resolve current and future opioids claims by states, cities, counties and Native American tribes.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court intervention is justified for a divided Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling denying a Washington Indian tribe’s challenge to its traditional fishing grounds in Puget Sound because the trial court had continuing jurisdiction to decide the matter, the tribe says in its Oct. 7 reply brief (Muckleshoot Indian Tribe v. Tulalip Tribes, et al., No. 20-195, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal government on Oct. 7 asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stay an injunction in its attempt to end the COVID-19 delayed 2020 census now so it can meet the Dec. 31 statutory deadline to submit final population count numbers for apportioning congressional seats, Electoral College votes and $1.5 trillion in federal funding (Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., et al. v. National Urban League, et al., No. 20A62, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO — An Arizona federal judge used the wrong legal standard in denying a request by six Native Americans for a preliminary injunction barring a voting provision in the state requiring vote-by-mail ballots to be received before 7 p.m. on Election Day, the tribal members say in an Oct. 3 opening brief for their expedited appeal to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Darlene Yazzie, et al. v. Katie Hobbs, No. 20-16890, 9th Cir.).
CARSON CITY, Nev. — In a split decision, the Nevada Supreme Court on Sept. 17 ruled that the public trust doctrine as implemented in the state's comprehensive water statutes does not permit the reallocation of water rights that have already been adjudicated and settled under the doctrine of prior appropriation (Mineral County, et al. v. Lyon County, et al., No. 75917, Nev. Sup., 2020 Nev. LEXIS 56).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 granted the petition of a man convicted of murder in Oklahoma, who says the state lacked jurisdiction to try him for the crime because he is an Indian and the crime happened on a reservation, vacated the conviction and remanded to a state appeals court based on the high court's landmark ruling in Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma (Garry Wayne Wilson v. Oklahoma, No. 19-8126, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The nation's top court on Oct. 5 declined to review the state court murder conviction of a North Carolina man who said he should have been tried in federal court because he is a Cherokee Indian descendant (George Lee Nobles v. North Carolina, No. 20-87, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 denied certiorari for United Parcel Service Inc.'s challenge to a $98 million damages award in favor of New York state and city for UPS's illegal shipments of untaxed cigarettes from Native American smoke shops (United Parcel Service, Inc. v. New York, et al., No. 19-1306, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A California court's award on remand of summary judgment to the state on its claims that an Indian tribe was selling unapproved cigarette brands from an out-of-state tribe stand after the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 5 denied the California tribe's petition for review (Native Wholesale Supply Company v. People of California ex rel. Xavier Becerra, No. 19-985, U.S. Sup.).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — A Montana federal judge on Sept. 25 declared that William Perry Pendley has unlawfully served as acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for the past 425 days and wants a list of what actions by Pendley need to be set aside (Steve Bullock, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 20-62, D. Mont., Great Falls Div., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177029).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — An Indian tribe cannot pursue money damages from the United States for alleged breaches of fiduciary duties owed to the tribe for management of its trust lands along the Colorado River in the California desert because the tribe filed the claims too late and failed to state valid claims, a U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge determined Sept. 29 in dismissing the tribe's action (Chemehuevi Indian Tribe v. United States, No. 16-492L, Fed. Clms., 2020 U.S. Claims LEXIS 1867).
DENVER — Three Native American tribes still possess their aboriginal water rights in the Jemez River in New Mexico because Spain never acted affirmatively to extinguish the rights when it held sovereignty over the land in the 1500s, a divided 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Sept. 29 in reversing a federal court's ruling on interlocutory appeal (United States, et al. v. Tom Abousleman, et al., Nos. 18-2164, 18-2167, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 30918).
BILLINGS, Mont. — A Montana judge on Sept. 25 struck down a law regulating the long-established practice of ballot collection in the state after finding that it violates the constitutional voting rights of Native American and rural voters (Western Native Voice, et al. v. Corey Stapleton, et al., No. DV 20-0377, 13th Dist., Yellowstone Co.).
MEDFORD, Ore. — An Oregon federal judge on Sept. 25 adopted in full a magistrate judge's recommendation and dismissed consolidated water rights cases filed by farmers and water districts in the Klamath Basin for failure to join two Indian tribes that are required parties but cannot be added to the dispute due to their sovereign immunity (Klamath Irrigation District, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, et al., Nos. 19-451 and 19-531, D. Ore., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177212).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Alaska Native corporations are not entitled to receive $162.3 million allocated to them in emergency federal coronavirus relief funding because they do not meet the definition of "Indian Tribe" as required by the funding statute, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Sept. 25 (Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, et al. v. Steven Mnuchin, et al., Nos. 20-5204, 20-5205, 20-5209, D.C. Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California tribe waived its sovereign immunity in a dispute over a proposed casino along the San Francisco Bay shoreline by consenting to a federal court's continued jurisdiction to enforce a prior stipulated judgment, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Sept. 22 (SPRAWLDEF, et al. v. Guidiville Rancheria of California, et al., No. 19-16278, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 30236).