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Supreme Court rejects Navajo Nation trust lawsuit
Monday, April 6, 2009
Filed Under: Law | Trust

The Navajo Nation cannot sue the federal government over a botched coal lease, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today.

The tribe claimed the Interior Department violated its trust duties by approving a lease with less than favorable provisions. But the justices, in a unanimous decision, said no federal law or regulations supported the claim, which had been revived by the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.

"None of the sources of law cited by the Federal Circuit and relied upon by the tribe provides any more sound a basis for its breach-of-trust lawsuit against the federal government," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in US v. Navajo Nation. "This case is at an end."

The tribe claimed it lost at least $600 million in royalties for one of the most valuable coal deposits in the nation.

Supreme Court Decision:
Syllabus | Opinion [Scalia] | Concurrence [Souter]

Supreme Court Documents:
Oral Argument Transcript | Docket Sheet: No. 07-1410 | Brief: Former Interior Secretaries | Brief: New Mexico, Arizona and Utah | Brief: Law Professors | More: NCAI-NARF Tribal Supreme Court Project

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

March 2003 Supreme Court Decision in US v. Navajo Nation:
Syllabus | Opinion [Ginsburg] | Dissent [Souter]

Related Stories:
Ginsburg returns to Supreme Court after surgery (02/24)
Navajo Nation sees support on Supreme Court case (02/04)
Government files first brief in Navajo trust case (12/03)
Navajo Nation trust case on Supreme Court docket again (10/02)
Supreme Court to hear Navajo Nation trust case (10/1)
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)
Peabody takes coal lease dispute to high court (12/01)
Peabody loses another round in Navajo coal lease fight (6/16)
Judge won't dismiss Navajo Nation suit against Peabody (04/27)
Peabody continues top-level access at Interior (3/17)
Court opens window for Navajo Nation trust suit (10/27)
Court appears ready to toss Peabody appeal (04/15)
Supreme Court's trust rulings criticized (4/14)
Navajo Nation back in court over Peabody lease (4/8)
Effects of Supreme Court decision debated (03/07)
High court ruling makes 'passive' trustee of U.S. (3/5)
A mixed bag for Indian trust (3/5)

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