Supreme Court pick puts some Indian law cases on questionnaire

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Judge Merrick Garland in the Oval Office. Photo by Pete Souza / White House

U.S. Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland submitted a 141-page questionnaire to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

Garland is the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which hears a significant number of Indian law cases. But he's never written a majority opinion in any of the biggest disputes that came before him.

However, Garland listed one closely-watched case that made it to the Supreme Court. He was part of the panel that decided Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. US.

In September 2014, the D.C. Circuit held that the Menominee Nation of Wisconsin waited too long to bring certain contract support claims against the Indian Health Service. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision issued in January, upheld that finding.

Garland listed a second case that didn't garner as much attention. In Ramapough Mountain Indians v. Norton, the D.C. Circuit rejected an attempt by the Ramapough Lunaape Nation of New Jersey to gain federal recognition after its petition was rejected by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The Supreme Court did not accept the tribe's petition, putting an end to the litigation. But Garland put the case on his questionnaire because he was asked to list every case in which a petition for certiorari was requested or granted.

Garland has participated in other Indian law cases like the infamous Febraury 2007 decision that opened tribes to the National Labor Relations Act. But since the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians did not file a petition with the Supreme Court, it didn't make it into the questionnaire.

Garland did provide a separate list of the "10 most significant opinions" he has written. But none of them were Indian law cases because he hasn't written a majority opinion in an Indian law case.

The questionnaire was submitted as part of the confirmation process but Senate Republicans have said they will not advance Garland's nomination. They want to wait until after the November presidential election.

Get the Story:
White House sends high-court pick’s questionnaire to Senate (AP 5/10)
The latest push to confirm Merrick Garland: A 141-page questionnaire (The Washington Post 5/10)
Merrick Garland Completes Nominee Questionnaire for the Senate (The New York Times 5/10)

Supreme Court Decision:
Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin v. United States (January 25, 2015)

Supreme Court Documents:
Oral Argument Transcript | Question Presented

DC Circuit Court of Appeals Decision:
Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin v. USA (September 2, 2014)

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