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Law | Trust
Supreme Court rejects Navajo Nation trust lawsuit


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]

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