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Law
Supreme Court won't hear Osage Nation case


The U.S. Supreme Court today refused to hear a taxation case involving the Osage Nation of Oklahoma.

The tribe sued the state over income taxes assessed on members who are employed by the tribe and live on tribal land. The state raised a sovereign immunity defense and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals allowed the state and the Oklahoma Tax Commission to be removed as defendants.

However, the court said the case could proceed against officials on the tax commission. The state asked the Supreme Court to overturn the ruling but the justices without comment declined to review the dispute in Kemp v. Osage Nation.

The lawsuit has not been decided on the merits. At issue is whether Osage County, where the tribe is based, is considered Indian Country. If that's the case, then the state cannot impose income taxes on members who are employed by the tribe and live on the reservation.

In other Supreme Court news, the justices rejected a treaty rights appeal by the Klamath Tribes of Oregon. The tribes wanted to sue PacifiCorp for allegedly damaging fish runs but lower courts rejected the claim. The case was Klamath Tribes of Oregon v. PacifiCorp.

The justices also declined to hear a case involving a member of the Puyallup Tribe who sued the state of Washington over a tobacco compact. The case was Matheson v. Gregoire.

The court won't hear an appeal by several Western Shoshone tribes to determine ownership of 60 million acres of treaty land. The case was South Fork Band v. United States.

Relevant Documents:
Supreme Court Order List (October 6, 2006)

Related Stories:
SCOTUSBlog: Supreme Court petitions to watch (09/19)
Turtle Talk: Review of pending Supreme Court cases (09/05)