Court allows state offender registry on reservations

Minnesota's sex offender registry can be enforced in Indian Country, the state Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

By a vote of 5-2, the court said tribal members who live on reservations must register with the state. The move overturned a court of appeals ruling that said the state lacked the authority to enforce the registry.

Minnesota is a Public Law 280 state. The state has civil and criminal jurisdiction on reservations, with the exception of the Red Lake Nation.

Under U.S. Supreme Court precedent, however, PL-280 states can only enforce laws of a "criminal/prohibitory" nature. Laws of a "civil/regulatory" nature interfere with tribal sovereignty, the high court has said.

So in order to apply the registry law, the Minnesota majority said it was based on a violation of a criminal/prohibitory offense. But two judges disagreed with the reasoning and two judges filed a dissent.

Get the Story:
Indian predatory offenders also must register (The St. Paul Pioneer Press 3/23)
High court: Tribal members subject to predator registration (The Minneapolis Star Tribune 3/23)

Get the Decision:
Minnesota v. Peter John Jones (March 22, 2007)

Related Stories
Minnesota appeals court limits state jurisdiction (7/27)