Bush names judges to Montana federal court
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MAY 22, 2001

A Montana lawyer who once fought for the right of states to tax tribes all the way to the Supreme Court was named by President Bush on Friday to a position in federal court.

Missoula lawyer Sam E. Haddon also represented clients who tried to prove the Flathead Reservation no longer existed. Along with fellow nominee Richard Cebull, he'd now preside over a number of cases affecting tribes and tribal members in the state.

Haddon, 63, and Cebull, 57, are Bush's first nominees aimed at filling a number of vacancies in the federal trial court system. Both have the backing of Montana's Democrat and Republican Senators, who on Friday endorsed the pair and asked the Judiciary Committee to expedite their confirmations amid political disputes in the evenly divided Senate.

The federal court system in Montana in recent months hasn't been kind to tribes. Retiring District Judge Jack Shanstrom, who took on senior status in January due to health reasons, last year struck down a tax imposed by the Crow Tribe on non-Indian business on non-Indian owned land.

Taxation is familiar to Haddon, who, as special Assistant Attorney General for Montana, was on the other side of the issue. In 1976, he fought to have the Supreme Court allow states to tax tribal businesses and reservation residents.

Haddon was urged on by then Attorney General for Washington and noted tribal sovereignty foe, Slade Gorton. But the Supreme Court rejected their arguments, ruling that the state couldn't impose sales or personal property taxes on tribal members.

The decision wasn't an entire win for tribes, however. The Court said business transactions to non-Indians were subject to sales tax, an issue that still reverberates in Indian Country today.

Haddon also defended non-Indians who tried to prove the Flathead Reservation, home to the Salish and Kootenai tribes, was terminated. After an eight-year court battle, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1982 rejected the notion and ruled that the tribes had the right to enforce ordinances affecting Flathead Lake, even on non-Indians.

Haddon is a partner in the law firm of Boone, Karlberg & Haddon and chairman of the state Commission on Practice. He is a 1965 graduate of University of Montana School of Law and served with the U.S. Border Patrol and Federal Bureau of Narcotics in late 1950s and early 1960s.

If confirmed, Haddon would replace retiring District Judge Charles C. Lovell, who took on senior status in June 2000. Cebulla, current a state magistrate judge, would replace Shanstrom. He graduated from University of Montana Law School in 1969.

Federal courts have jurisdiction over major crimes committed by tribal members in Indian Country.

Democrats have vowed to hold back Bush's judicial nominees unless both members of a state's Senate delegation agree to the nominees. Democrats are complaining that Republicans have changed the way judges are recommended, a charge Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) denies.

Get the Taxation Case:
MOE v. SALISH & KOOTENAI TRIBES, 425 U.S. 463 (1976) (US Sup Ct April 27, 1976)

Relevant Links:
Boone, Karlberg & Haddon -
Senate Judiciary Committee -

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