Muscogee Nation loses case on state seizure of tobacco products
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation lost a ruling in its tobacco taxation battle with the state of Oklahoma.

The tribe sued after trucks carrying tobacco products were stopped and searched by state officers on state highways. The Oklahoma Tax Commission was looking for untaxed cigarettes.

The tribe alleged its constitutional rights against unreasonable searches and seizures were violated by the state's actions. The tribe also said the state lacked authority to interfere with Indian commerce.

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in a unanimous decision, rejected the tribe on both claims. The court noted that the tribe has not signed a tobacco tax compact with the state.

"It is beyond peradventure that a state may seize contraband cigarettes located outside Indian lands but in transit to a tribal smoke shop," the court wrote, quoting a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

"MCN cannot seriously argue that the Indian Commerce Clause, of its own force, automatically bars or preempts a state from enforcing its tax laws outside Indian country, even if such enforcement significantly touches the political and economic interests of MCN," the court wrote, referring to the tribe's interference claim.

Turtle Talk has posted documents from the case, Muscogee Nation v. Henry.

Get the Story:
Muscogee (Creek) tobacco arguments fail (Indian Country Today 7/17)

10th Circuit Decision:
Muscogee Nation v. Oklahoma (July 9, 2010)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Muscogee Nation taxation battle worth the fight (3/29)
Judge won't stop state from going after Creek cigarettes (3/24)
Oklahoma seizes tobacco bound for Muscogee shops (02/15)
Editorial: Oklahoma wins in tobacco battle (8/17)
Judge dismisses Muscogee tobacco lawsuit (8/11)
Muscogee Nation fights state over tobacco taxation (5/21)
Muscogee Nation cigarettes confiscated by state (5/14)