indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+
ph: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Bush brief backs tribal court jurisdiction
Monday, March 24, 2008
Filed Under: Law

The Bush administration is standing up for tribal court jurisdiction in a U.S. Supreme Court case that is drawing a high level of attention.

In a brief filed last week, the Department of Justice heralded tribal courts as playing a "vital role" in tribal self-governance. Citing long-standing federal policy and acts of Congress, government attorneys urged the high court to respect the decisions of tribal judicial systems.

"While their jurisdiction may not be exclusive, a sovereign tribe should be entitled to interpret and enforce its own law in the first instance," Solicitor General Paul D. Clement wrote in the 41-page filing. "Tribal authority over nonmembers on non-Indian land is already limited ... but when those criteria are met, tribal courts should be entitled to consider claims of noncompliance with legitimate tribal requirements."

The brief is just one of several placed before the justices as they prepare for oral arguments. The case, Plains Commerce Bank v. Long, will be heard April 14 and is one of two Indian law cases on the docket this term.

The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota, where the dispute originated, the National Congress of American Indians, the Navajo Nation and advocates for Native women are joining the administration in supporting tribal court jurisdiction.

But the opposing side -- a non-Indian bank that is challenging a nearly $900,000 tribal court verdict -- is being backed by nine states, four counties, a conservative legal group, the Association of American Railroads and the American Bankers Association.

"The banking lobby is very, very strong," NCAI executive director Jackie Johnson told tribal leaders in Washington, D.C., earlier this month.

The case began when Ronnie and Lila Long, members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe who own a cattle operation on the reservation, filed suit in tribal court against Plains Commerce Bank. The Longs accused the bank of breach of contract and discrimination.

A tribal jury sided with the Longs but the bank went to federal court to challenge the award on the grounds that the tribe lacks jurisdiction over non-Indian entities. A federal judge and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals, however, rejected the challenge.

Plains Commerce now has one last shot at avoiding tribal jurisdiction. The bank is citing a Supreme Court case from 1981 that limited tribal authority over non-Indians.

But the decision in Montana v. U.S. set out two exceptions to the general rule. The ruling stated:
A tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members, through commercial dealing, contracts, leases, or other arrangements. A tribe may also retain inherent power to exercise civil authority over the conduct of non-Indians on fee lands within its reservation when that conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security, or the health or welfare of the tribe.

The 8th Circuit said both conditions were met in the Plains Commerce case. The bank established a consensual relationship with the Longs and the tribe has a sovereign interest in regulating how businesses interact with its members, the court ruled.

Despite the favorable ruling, Indian law practitioners say the Montana exceptions are very hard to meet. "In a series of decisions issued over the last thirty years, the Supreme Court has largely limited the jurisdiction of tribal courts to disputes involving Indians, not outsiders," said Steven J. Gunn, an associate professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis, which has provided legal assistance to the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe in the case.

But the tide might be turning as more case law develops. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006 upheld tribal jurisdiction in a decision that has opened the doors for at least one other tribal plaintiff to pursue claims against a non-Indian entity.

Relevant Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 07-411 | Briefs on the Merits

Appeals Court Decision:
Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company (June 26, 2007)

Lower Court Decision:
Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land and Cattle Company (July 18, 2006)

Related Decision:
Smith v. Salish Kootenai College (January 10, 2006)

Related Stories:
Opinion: No tribal jurisdiction over non-Indians (3/3)
Supreme Court agrees to hear tribal jurisdiction case (1/8)
Appeals court upholds tribal verdict in bank loan case (6/28)
9th Circuit vacates tribal jurisdiction ruling (2/2)
Court subjects non-Indian bank to tribal laws (7/20)
Appeals court upholds tribal jurisdiction after rehearing (01/11)



Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:

Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Native Sun News: Businesses show support for LNI tournament (3/27)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala Sioux fighter climbing in the ranks (3/27)
Mark Trahant: Alaska Natives look 10,000 years into the future (3/27)
Ivan Star: The influences of boarding school and Vietnam War (3/27)
Gyasi Ross: Funerals become family reunions in Indian Country (3/27)
Tim Giago hands over the reins as publisher of Native Sun News (3/27)
House committee passes Native American Children's Safety Act (3/27)
Bill to benefit Miami Nation moves forward in House and Senate (3/27)
City extended contract to send treated sewage to sacred peaks (3/27)
Oneida Nation welcomes ruling backing land-into-trust request (3/27)
Lawmakers want BIA to delay new federal recognition reforms (3/27)
Another conviction from Chippewa Cree Tribe corruption probe (3/27)
Editorial: Shakopee Tribe contributes $5M for health initiative (3/27)
Opinion: Navajo Nation enacts 'sin tax' on unhealthy products (3/27)
Editorial: Opposition to Pamunkey Tribe recognition 'revolting' (3/27)
Dennis Jenkins: Hypocrisy for new tribal casinos in Connecticut (3/27)
Supreme Court asked to hear Kialegee Tribal Town gaming case (3/27)
Ho-Chunk Nation extends agreement for off-reservation casino (3/27)
Indiana lawmakers seek role in Pokagon Band gaming compact (3/27)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux leader not pleased with boycott (3/26)
Lakota Country Times: Lakota Nation Invitational stays in Rapid (3/26)
Native Sun News: Mayor of Rapid City addresses race relations (3/26)
Jane Daugherty: Tribal e-commerce continues to draw scrutiny (3/26)
Witness list for Senate Indian Affairs Committee's field hearing (3/26)
Richard Iron Cloud: Remove murderer's name from sacred peak (3/26)
Native Youth: Bring dental therapy providers to Indian Country (3/26)
Steven Newcomb: Tribal nations still under dominating process (3/26)
Law firm hosts tribes for session on marijuana in Indian Country (3/26)
Judge upholds BIA decision on Oneida Nation land-into-trust bid (3/26)
Appeals court rules against Crow Tribe in housing grant dispute (3/26)
Ho-Chunk Nation raises minimum wage to $2.75 above federal (3/26)
Mishewal Wappo Tribe to appeal decision in recognition lawsuit (3/26)
Racist emails of former Montana federal judge to be preserved (3/26)
Shingle Springs Band considered but rejected indoor gun range (3/26)
House panel backs bill to block Tohono O'odham Nation casino (3/26)
Quapaw Tribe did not include casino on land-into-trust request (3/26)
Chumash Tribe never got apology for diplomat's casino remark (3/26)
Governor won't sign casino compact with Fort Sill Apache Tribe (3/26)
Cherokee Nation approves $6.9M renovation project for casino (3/26)
Native Sun News: Oglala Sioux veteran training for Paralympics (3/25)
Alaska Native musher Chuck Schaeffer completes 2015 Iditarod (3/25)
LTBB News: Michigan tribes come together for historic meeting (3/25)
Lecture focuses on repatriation of tribal intellectual properties (3/25)
Board still working on delivering money for Cobell scholarships (3/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair field hearing on drugs in Indian Country (3/25)
Bill for tribal marijuana compacts up for hearing in Washington (3/25)
Choctaw Nation chief hopes to travel to Ireland for monument (3/25)
HHS urged to do more to help tribes with foster care programs (3/25)
Eastern Cherokees work to teach language to new generations (3/25)
Another suggestion for Indian woman on $20 bill -- Sakakawea (3/25)
Man from Crow Tribe cites self-defense in fatal casino shooting (3/25)
Shawnee Tribe sees opposition to off-reservation gaming plan (3/25)
Navajo Nation signs Class III casino compact with New Mexico (3/25)
Quapaw Tribe insists a casino isn't focus of Arkansas land plan (3/25)
Suquamish Tribe reaches deal to allow highway work at casino (3/25)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.