2022-2023 Term
Supreme Court Cases Related to Indian Law

Last Updated: September 28, 2022

Cert Granted

Petition for certiorari has been granted in one Indian law-related cases.

Cert Pending

Petitions for certiorari are pending in twelve Indian law-related cases.

Cert Denied

Petitions for certiorari have been denied in no Indian law-related cases.

Cert Granted

Haaland v. Brackeen
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-376

Questions Presented: Whether various provisions of ICWA--namely, the minimum standards of Section 1912(a), (d), (e), and (f); the placement-preference provisions of Section 1915(a) and (b); and the recordkeeping provisions of Sections 1915(e) and 1951(a)--violate the anticommandeering doctrine of the Tenth Amendment. Whether the individual plantiffs have Article III standing to challenge ICWA's placement preferences for "other Indian families," 25 U.S.C. 1915(a)(3), and for "Indian foster home[s]," 25 U.S.C. 1915(b)(iii). Whether Section 1915(a)(3) and (b)(iii) are rationally related to legitimate governmental interests and therefore consistent with equal protection.

History: Petition was filed on 9/3/21. Petition was granted on 2/28/22. The petitions for certiorari in No. 21-377 (Cherokee Nation v. Brackeen); No. 21-378 (Texas v. Haaland); and No. 21-380 (Brackeen v. Haaland) have been consolidated, and future filings and activity in the cases will now be reflected on the docket of No. 21-376.

Ruling Below: Brackeen v. Bernhardt. 937 F.3d 406.

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Cert Pending

Acres v. Marston
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1480

Questions Presented: What personal immunities are available to tribal officials?

History: Petition was filed on 5/20/22.

Ruling Below: Acres v. Marston. 72.Cal.App.5th 417.

Arizona v. Navajo Nation
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1484

Questions Presented: Does the Ninth Circuit Opinion, allowing the Nation to proceed with a claim to enjoin the Secretary to develop a plan to meet the Nation’s water needs and manage the mainstream of the LBCR so as not to interfere with that plan, infringe upon this Court’s retained and exclusive jurisdiction over the allocation of water from the LBCR mainstream in Arizona v. California? Can the Nation state a cognizable claim for breach of trust consistent with this Court’s holding in Jicarilla based solely on unquantified implied rights to water under the Winters Doctrine?

History: Petition was filed on 4/17/22.

Ruling Below: Navajo Nation v. Department of the Interior. 996 F.3d 623.

Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe of the Uintah and Ouray Reservation
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1340

Questions Presented: Whether a federal court may force a non-consenting, non-Indian plaintiff to exhaust his claims in tribal court when the defendant tribe has expressly consented by contract to federal or state court jurisdiction and waived both sov- ereign immunity and tribal exhaustion. Whether a state court may adjudicate a contractual dispute between a tribe and a non-Indian where the tribe has provided specific contractual consent to state court jurisdiction; or instead, whether the Constitution or laws of the United States prohibit such exercises of state court jurisdiction unless the State has assumed general civil jurisdiction over tribal territory under Sections 1322 and 1326 of Title 25.

History: Petition was filed on 4/6/22.

Ruling Below: Becker v. Ute Indian Tribe. 7 F.4th 945.

Big Horn County Electric Cooperative v. Big Man
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 22-62

Questions Presented: Whether an Indian tribal court has subject-matter jurisdiction to adjudicate a tribally created claim as an “other means” of regulating a nonmember federally funded and federally regulated electric cooperative tasked with providing electrical service to all customers within its service territory, including tribal members on Indian reservations?

History: Petition was filed on 7/19/22.

Ruling Below: Big Horn Co. Electric Cooperative v. Big Man. 2022 WL 738623.

Department of the Interior v. Navajo Nation
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 22-51

Questions Presented: Whether the federal government owes the Navajo Nation an affirmative, judicially enforceable fiduciary duty to assess and address the Navajo Nation’s need for water from particular sources, in the absence of any substantive source of law that expressly establishes such a duty.

History: Petition was filed on 7/15/22.

Ruling Below: Navajo Nation v. Department of the Interior. 26 F.4th 794.

Halvorson v. Hennepin County Children's Services Department
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1471

Questions Presented: Whether it is an error of law for a state court to order the transfer of a foster care proceeding to tribal court when the transfer forces a nonmember party residing outside the reservation to the jurisdiction of the tribal court without that party's consent?

History: Petition was filed on 3/30/22.

Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians v. Brian W. Coughlin
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 22-227

Questions Presented: Whether the Bankruptcy Code expresses unequivocally Congress’s intent to abrogate the sovereign immunity of Indian tribes.

History: Petition was filed on 9/12/22.

Ruling Below: Coughlin v. Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. 33 F.4th 600.

Lopez v. Quaempts
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1544

Questions Presented: Whether this Court, to allow for more complete state court tort remedies against individual tribal employees, as indicated in Lewis v. Clarke, 137 S. Ct. 1285 (2017), should clarify existing tribal sovereign immunity law to allow tort victims to sue a tribe based on vicarious liability when a tribe ratifies individual tribal employees’ actions giving rise to the state tort claims. Whether the lower court’s refusal to recognize a tribe’s ratification of tribal employees’ allegedly tortious acts, as an express waiver of sovereign immunity impermissibly interferes with states’ rights to award remedies to tort victims.

History: Petition was filed on 6/7/22.

Ruling Below: Lopez v. Quaempts. 2022 WL 5561997.

Mill Bay Members Association v. United States
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1542

Questions Presented: Whether equitable estoppel ever applies against the federal government, and if so, whether it applies when the government acts as trustee for Indian lands? Whether 25 U.S.C § 391 authorizes the President to extend the trust period of allotments held in trust, and if not, whether Section 5 of the General Allotment Act applies to allotments patented under separate legislation?

History: Petition was filed on 6/7/22.

Ruling Below: Grondal v. United States. 21 F.4th 1140.

Oklahoma v. Sam
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1214

Questions Presented: What requirements must a criminal defendant satisfy to qualify as an "Indian" under the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1153?

History: Petition was filed on 2/4/22.

Oklahoma v. Sims
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1102

Questions Presented: Whether a State has authority to prosecute non-Indians who commit crimes against Indians in Indian country. If the answer to the first question is no, whether a state has authority to prosecute a non-Indian for a crime committed in Indian Country when the crime does not directly harm the person or property of an Indian.

History: Petition was filed on 3/2/22.

Oklahoma v. Wadkins
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 21-1193

Questions Presented: What requirements must a criminal defendant satisfy to qualify as an "Indian" under the Major Crimes Act, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 1153?

History: Petition was filed on 2/25/22.

 

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Cert Denied

 

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