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The Rise of Tribes and the Fall of Federal Indian Law
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Turtle Talk: Tribal court jurisdiction case
Monday, March 30, 2009
Filed Under: Law

"SCOTUSBlog lists Coushatta Tribe v. Meyer & Assoc. as a petition to watch for the April 3, 2009 conference. A cursory review of the cert petition shows that there may be a conflict in the state courts about whether the tribal court exhaustion doctrine enunciated by National Farmers Union and Iowa Mutual applies to state courts. The conflict seems to be with the Connecticut courts, and perhaps the New York and Wisconsin courts (though there are good reasons to doubt whether those courts have really embraced the doctrine), which have held that the tribal court exhaustion doctrine applies to its courts. Other courts — Louisiana, Arizona, and others — have rejected the application of the doctrine to their courts.

My sense is that the Court will deny this petition, though it is definitely worth watching. Three key reasons: (1) Louisiana’s course of action was to treat this common law doctrine as applying only to federal courts, preserving its own choice whether or not to adopt this federal court doctrine (a choice it made in the negative, just as Connecticut chose to adopt it, presumably of its own free will), making this dispute more a state law question than a federal law question; (2) the tribe is the petitioner; and (3) this is a common law case, rather than a federal statutory interpretation case or a federal constitutional case."

Get the Story:
Coushatta Tribe v. Meyer & Assoc. a “Petition to Watch” (Turtle Talk 3/29)



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