From left: Chairperson Cecilia Flores of the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Rep. Bruce Babin (R-Texas). Photo: SupportACTribe

Alabama-Coushatta Tribe turns to Congress after hitting end of road at Supreme Court

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe won't be able to argue for its gaming rights at the nation's highest court.

In a January 13 order list [see top of page 5], the U.S. Supreme Court declined to grant the petition in Alabama-Coushatta Tribe of Texas v. State of Texas. The action means an appeals court ruling that went against the tribe's sovereignty will stand.

But the fight for equal treatment is far from over. A bipartisan bill that recognizes the tribe's gaming rights already passed the U.S. House of Representatives and awaits movement in the U.S. Senate.

“We are trying to get the word out, trying to tell our story, and tell how important this is to East Texas,” Chairwoman Cecilia Flores told The Tyler County Booster.

The Alabama-Coushatta Tribe owns and operates Naskila Gaming, a Class II facility in Livingston, Texas. Photo: Naskila Gaming

The bill is H.R.759, the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo and Alabama-Coushatta Tribes of Texas Equal and Fair Opportunity Settlement Act. It puts the the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe and the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, also known as the Tigua Tribe, on the same footing as nearly every other Indian nation when it comes to gaming.

The Democratic-controlled House passed H.R.759 under a suspension of the rules on July 24. It was considered non-controversial -- no one outright opposed it, although one Republican noted that the governor of Texas does not support the measure.

As a result, the bill is being held up in the Senate, which is in Republican hands, Flores told The Booster. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) has asked the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs not to move forward until the concerns of the state can be resolved, the paper reported.

The state, however, didn't mention any issues with the legislation when it responded to the tribe's Supreme Court petition last month. On the contrary, it described the Congressional push as a "ready avenue" for the Alabama-Coushatta, as well as the Tigua, whose gaming rights also have been limited.

"There is no need for this court’s involvement to provide the gaming permission the tribe seeks," the December 9 brief reads. "The two Restoration Act tribes have a ready avenue to redress their grievances through Congress."

"The House passed that bill in July with bipartisan support, and it is now awaiting Senate action," the brief continued.

Read More on the Story
A-C tribe ‘hopeful’ for Naskila’s future (The Tyler County Booster January 21, 2020)

5th Circuit Court of Appeals Decision
Texas v. Alabama-Coushatta Tribe (March 14, 2019)

Indianz.Com Audio: 5th Circuit Court of Appeals -- State of Texas v. Alabama-Coushatta Tribe -- January 9, 2019

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