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Law | Trust
Supreme Court to hear Navajo Nation trust case


The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to hear the Bush administration's appeal of the Navajo Nation's breach of trust lawsuit.

The tribe says the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved a coal development lease with a less than favorable royalty rate. The tribe says it was cheated out of $600 million.

The Federal Circuit Court of Appeals, in August 2001, ruled that the tribe is owed money damages. But the Supreme Court, in March 2003, said the tribe failed to prove its case under trust law precedents.

On remand, the tribe cited additional federal laws and regulations. The Federal Circuit, in September 2007, again ruled the tribe was owed money.

At issue in the latest appeal is whether the tribe made its case and whether the Supreme Court's 2003 decision foreclosed the tribe from seeking damages.

Supreme Court Documents:
Docket Sheet: No. 07-1410 | Petition for Certiorari

Federal Circuit Decision:
Navajo Nation v. US (September 13, 2007)

Supreme Court Decision in US v. Navajo Nation:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Souter]

Related Supreme Court Decision in US v. White Mountain Apache Tribe:
Syllabus | Opinion [Souter] | Concurrence [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Thomas]

Related Stories:
Supreme Court considers Indian law cases (9/30)
SCOTUSBlog: Supreme Court petitions to watch (09/19)
Bush seeks review of long-running Navajo trust case (5/19)
Court: Navajo Nation owed money for bungled lease (9/14)