Supreme Court won't hear Buena Vista Rancheria compact suit

Artist's rendering of the proposed Buena Vue Casino. Image from Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians

The U.S. Supreme Court won't be hearing a Class III gaming compact dispute involving the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians in California.

Without comment, the justices today issued an order denying a petition in Friends of Amador County v, Jewell. That means a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision that protects the tribe from a lawsuit will stand.

A group called Friends of Amador County sued the Bureau of Indian Affairs in hopes of invalidating the compact by questioning the tribe's federal recognition. The 9th Circuit, however, said the tribe was a necessary party that can't be sued due to its sovereign immunity.

"Appellants challenge the validity of the tribe’s federally recognized status but concede its existence," the 9th Circuit wrote in an unpublished decision on January 29. "Indeed, the tribe has been federally recognized since at least 1985 and it thus has 'the immunities and privileges available to other federally acknowledged Indian tribes by virtue of their government-to-government relationship with the United States.'"

"Appellants claim that the district court erred by disregarding their allegations that the tribe should not be federally recognized," the decision continued. "But the court cannot simply turn a blind eye to the tribe’s status as a federally recognized tribe in the Federal Register."

Oral arguments took place before the 9th Circuit on January 15. A copy is available on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud.

9th Circuit Decision:
Friends of Amador County v. Jewell (January 29, 2014)

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