Business | Law

Supreme Court asks DOJ for views in Mississippi Choctaw case

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court. File Photo © Indianz.Com

The U.S. Supreme Court today asked the Department of Justice to submit a brief in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, a tribal court jurisdiction case.

Dollar General operates a store on trust land that the company leases from the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians and under a business license issued by the tribe. The company, however, claims that it can't be subject to the jurisdiction of the tribe's court system.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. On October 3, 2013, a split panel of three judges determined that the store entered into a "consensual relationship" with the tribe, satisfying at least one of the two exceptions laid out in the Montana v. US decision, a precedent-setting case regarding tribal jurisdiction over non-Indian entities.

One judge dissented and Dollar General tried to get a larger panel of judges on the 5th Circuit to rehear the case. The request was denied so the company filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court.

The justices considered the company's petition at a closed-door conference last Monday. But rather than announce whether they will take the case, they issued an order asking DOJ for its views on the matter, a practice that has been common in recent years regarding Indian law cases.

The case is being closely watched by the NARF-NCAI Tribal Supreme Court Project.

"The store is located on tribal trust land leased to the non-Indian corporation and the store agreed to participate in a youth job training program operated by the tribe," the project said in an September 24 update. "A tribal member who participated in the program brought an action in tribal court alleging that he was assaulted by the store manager."

5th Circuit Decision:
Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians (October 3, 2013)

Oral Arguments in Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians on the Indianz.Com SoundCloud

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