Judge schedules hearing in Gun Lake Tribe's gaming land litigation

The Gun Lake Casino in Wayland, Michigan. Photo from Google+

A federal judge will hold a hearing this Thursday in a lawsuit that could force the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians, also known as the Gun Lake Tribe, to close its casino in Michigan.

The hearing comes two years after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Salazar v. Patchak. By an 8-1 vote in June 2012, the justices held that the tribe's land-into-trust application can be challenged even though it has already been finalized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

David Patchak, a non-Indian, argues that the BIA lacked authority to place the site of the Gun Lake Casino in trust as a result of the 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. The ruling restricts the land-into-trust process to tribes that were "under federal jurisdiction" as of 1934.

The Gun Lake Tribe didn't gain formal recognition until 1999. So Patchak's lawsuit places the casino in jeopardy even though it has been operating and contributing to the local and state economy for more than four years.

The issue, however, could be resolved if Congress enacts S.1603, the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act. The bill bars legal challenges -- including Patchak's -- to the land-into-trust application.

The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on June 19 and it awaits action in the House. The Obama administration supports the measure.

Thursday's hearing takes place at 12:30pm in Courtroom 18 of the federal district court in Washington, D.C. Judge Richard J. Leon is presiding.

Get the Story:
Hearing set in Gun Lake Casino lawsuit (MLive 9/1)
Lawsuit against casino continues Thursday (WOOD-TV 9/1)
Casino lawsuit will continue Thursday (WOOD Radio 9/1)

Supreme Court Decisions:
Salazar v. Patchak | Carcieri v. Salazar

Supreme Court Oral Arguments:

Related Stories
House committee passes bill to protect Gun Lake Tribe's casino (08/01)

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