2020-2021 Term
Supreme Court Cases Related to Indian Law

Last Updated: 5/12/21.

Cert Granted

Petitions for certiorari has been granted in four Indian law-related cases.

Cert Pending

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

Cert Denied

Petitions for certiorari have been denied in eight Indian law-related cases.

Cert Granted


Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-543

Questions Presented: Whether Alaska Native regional and village corporations established pursuant to the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act are "Indian Tribe[s]" for purposes of the CARES Act, 42 U.S.C. 801(g)(1).

History: Petition was filed on 10/23/20. Petition was granted on 1/8/21.

Ruling Below: 2020 WL 5742075. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation v. Mnuchin.

Alaska Native Village Corporation Association v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-544

Questions Presented: Whether ANCs are "Indian tribes" under ISDEAA and therefore are eligible for emergency-relief funds under Title V of the CARES Act.

History: Petition was filed on 10/21/20. Petition was granted on 1/8/21.

United States v. Cooley
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 19-1414

Questions Presented: Whether the lower courts erred in suppressing evidence on the theory that a police officer of an Indian tribe lacked authority to temporarily detain and search respondent, a non-Indian, on a public right-of-way within a reservation based on a potential violation of state or federal law.

History: Petition was filed on 6/19/20. Petition was granted on 11/20/20.

Ruling Below: United States v. Cooley. 919 F.3d 1135.

Wilson v. Oklahoma
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 19-8126

Questions Presented: Whether the State of Oklahoma has jurisdiction to prosecute a Cherokee Indian whose alleged crime of murder occurred within the historic and treaty-set boundaries of the Cherokee Nation.

History: Petition was filed on 3/16/20. Petition was granted on 10/5/20. Vacated and remanded.

 

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Cert Pending

Pierson v. Hudson Insurance Company
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-1508

Questions Presented: Did the resolution of the tort claim against Thorne in Pearson v. Thorne decide the same issue or claim that plaintiff raises in the present suit against Hudson, such that the present lawsuit is barred by collateral estoppel? As it relates to the litigation in the prior lawsuit, is Hudson in privity with Thorne to be able to avail itself of the affirmative defense of issue and/or claim preclusion? Collateral estoppel is not to be applied when the result is against public policy. Plaintiff alleges that the failure of Hudson to write a waiver of the sovereignty defense into its policies (up to the limit of the policy) is a pattern of conduct that nullifies the operation of 25 USC 5321 (c)(3)(A), therby depriving tort victims of the recovery that Congress intended should be available. Hudson has never answered this allegation, instead urging the court to stretch collateral estoppel to prevent plaintiff from exposing an illegal and lucrative practice of collecting premiums for liability policies under which it is very unlikely that any plaintiff will be able to obtain a recovery. Because the plaintiff has never had a full and fair opportunity to litigate this claim, does public policy require allowing plaintiff to go forward with her claim against Hudson in the present case?

History: Petition was filed on 4/26/21.

Ruling Below: 839 Fed.Appx. 102.

Crossett v. Emmet County
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-1485

Questions Presented: Is Ms. Crossett on Indian land, a reservation established in the 1836 and 1855 treaties, not disestablished with intent by Congress, and does Little Traverse Bay Bands or Federals have jurisdiction over her. Did the lower courts err in passing over the "new" Indian jurisdiction issue, resulting in great injustice? Did Sixth Circuit err in upholding Summary judgment, though respondents violated Ms. Crossett's constitutional rights and state claim, losing immunity? Is Ms. Crossett's post-incarceration relief for damages barred by the "favorable termination" theory in Heck v. Humphrey?

History: Petition was filed on 4/19/21.

Ruling Below: 2020 WL 8969795.

Gilbert v. Weahkee
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-1487

Questions Presented: The question is whether a federal agency is allowed to enter into a contract with a state non-profit corporation when the state non-profit corporation was established by the federal agency and does not meet the lawful eligibility requirements in violation of federal law and the due process rights of the Petitioners.

History: Petition was filed on 4/14/21.

Ruling Below: 830 Fed.Appx. 496. Gilbert v. Weahkee.

Perkins v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-1388

Questions Presented: The question presented is whether the United States Court of Appeals and the United States Tax Court have given "due regards" to the treaty obligations of the United States by finding these treaties had no textual support for an exemption from federal income tax applicable to an enrolled Seneca member whose income is derived from the lands of the Seneca Nation.

History: Petition was filed on 3/31/21.

Ruling Below: 970 F.3d 148. Perkins v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

Seneca County v. Cayuga Indian Nation of New York
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-1210

Questions Presented: Whether tribal sovereign immunity bars local tax authorities from collecting lawfully imposed property taxes by foreclosing on real property that a tribe had acquired on the open market.

History: Petition was filed on 2/17/21.

Ruling Below: 978 F.3d 829. Cayuga Indian Nation of New York v. Seneca County.

Club One Casino v. Bernhardt
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-846

Questions Presented: Does the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. Sec. 5108, by authorizing the Secretary of the Interior "in his discretion" to acquire lands "for the purpose of providing land for Indians," silently operate, by virtue of a simple transfer of title, to divest States of their inherent and exclusive jurisdiction over such acquired lands and transfer it, without State cession or consent, to a tribe? If the Indian Reorganization Act, 25 U.S.C. Sec. 5108, is read to unilaterally transfer State jurisdiction to the federal government and tribes, did Congress have the power to do so under the Indian Commerce clause, art. I, Sec. 8 of the Constitution, notwithstanding other consitutional provisions limiting federal usurpation of State lands, e.g., art. IV, Sec. 3 (no involuntary reduction or combination of a State's territory), art. I, Sec. 8, cl. 17 (requiring State consent to federal enclaves), and the Tenth Amendment (reserving to the States powers not expressly delegated to Congress)?

History: Petition was filed on 12/18/20.

Ruling Below: 959 F.3d 1142.

Eglise Baptiste Bethanie De Ft. Lauderdale, et al. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida, et al.
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-791

Questions Presented: Is a Native American tribe sovereignly immune from a civil suit for damages caused by the off-reservation violations by its police officers of the "place of religious worship" provisions of the Freedom of Access To Clinic Entrances Act of 1994, 18 U.S.C. Sec. 248(a)(2) ("the Access Act")? Are the "place of religious worship" and civil remedies provisions of the Access Act, as applied to a congregational leadership dispute, unenforceable because those provisions violate the Establishment of Religion and Free Exercise of Religion Clauses of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution?

History: Petition was filed on 11/27/20.

Ruling Below: 824 Fed.Appx. 680. Eglise Baptiste Bethanie de Ft. Lauderdale, Inc. v. Seminole Tribe of Florida.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo v. Texas
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-493

Questions Presented: Whether the Restoration Act provides the Pueblo with sovereign authority to regulate non-prohibited gaming activities on its lands (including bingo), as set forth in the plain language of Section 107(b), the Act's legislative history, and this Court's holding in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202 (1987), or whether the Fifth Circuit's decision affirming Ysleta I correctly subjects the Pueblo to all Texas gaming regulations.

History: Petition was filed on 10/9/20.

Ruling Below: 955 F.3d 408. State of Texas v. Ysleta del Sur Pueblo.

 

 

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Cert Denied

Brown v. Polk County
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-982

Questions Presented: Whether the Fourth Amendment permits jail officials to conduct a physical, penetrative search of the vagina and/or anus of a pretrial detainee without a warrant, probably cause, or exigent circumstances, including in cases of persons detained for minor non-violent non-drug offenses like shoplifting.

History: Petition was filed on 1/15/21. Petition was denied on 4/19/21.

Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. Yakima County
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-753

Questions Presented: Can the United States change the scope of its reassumption of Pub. L. 83-280 jurisdiction in Indian Country years after the reassumption became effective under 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1323 without the Yakama Nation's prior consent required by 25 U.S.C. Sec. 1236?

History: Petition was filed on 11/25/20. Petition was denied on 4/5/21.

Ruling Below: 963 F.3d 982. Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation v. Yakima County.

FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 19-1143

Questions Presented: Whether the Ninth Circuit correctly holds that tribal jurisdiction over nonmembers is established whenever a Montana exception is met, or whether, as the Seventh and Eighth Circuits have held, a court must also determine that the exercise of such jurisdiction stems from the tribe's inherent authority to set conditions on entry, preserve tribal self-government, or control internal relations. Whether the Ninth Circuit has construed the Montana exceptions to swallow the general rule that tribes lack jurisdiction over nonmembers.

History: Petition was filed on 3/16/20. Petition was denied on 1/11/21.

Ruling Below: FMC Corporation v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. 942 F.3d 916.

Muckleshoot Indian Tribe v. Tulalip Tribes
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-195

Questions Presented: Whether the Ninth Circuit, in conflict with precedent of this Court and the D.C. Circuit, impermissably narrowed a decades-old judicial decree so as to deprive Indian tribes of their ability to exercise treaty fishing rights.

History: Petition was filed on 8/14/20. Petition was denied on 11/2/20.

Ruling Below: 944 F.3d 1179.

Rogers County Board of Tax Roll Corrections, et al. v. Video Gaming Technologies, Inc.
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 19-1298

Questions Presented: Whether a generally applicable state ad valorem tax, as assessed against personal property owned by a non-Indian, out-of-state corporate entity and leased to a tribe for use in its casino operations, is preempted by the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act and the Court's "particularized inquiry" balancing test, see White Mountain Apache Tribe v. Bracker, 448 U.S. 136 (1980), where the tax does not infringe on any federal regulatory purpose contained in the IGRA, the tax does not interfere with any tribal sovereignty interests, and the tax supports relevant and important government interests, such as law enforcement, schools and health services.

History: Petition was filed on 5/14/20. Petition was denied on 10/19/20.

Ruling Below: 455 P.3d 918.

Nobles v. North Carolina
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-87

Questions Presented: How does one determine whether a defendant is an Indian? Is Indian status a jury question?

History: Petition was filed on 7/27/20. Petition was denied on 10/5/20.

Ruling Below: State of North Carolina v. Nobles. 838 S.E.2d 373.

In Re Scott Louis YoungBear
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 20-78

Questions Presented: Whether the SOR violation of civil rights via an expired sentence provides a subject matter for a habeas court. Whether petitioner can be released from Tier III (which is for life) and altogether from SOR via the habeas corpus writ.

History: Petition for writ of habeas corpus was filed on 6/17/20. Petition was denied on 10/5/20.

Native Wholesale Supply Company v. California, ex rel. Xavier Becerra
Briefs and Pleadings
Docket No. 19-985

Questions Presented: Whether a contract for the purchase of goods entered into, and fully performed by, an Indian Tribe outside the exterior boundaries of the state in which the Tribe's reservation is located can constitutionally subject the out of state vendor to the specific personal jurisdiction of the buyer's state, under state laws purporting to regulate the sale of those goods in the buyer's state. Whether a state has specific personal jurisdiction to regulate a purchase of goods contract between an Indian on an Indian reservation outside the state and an Indian Tribe located within the state's boundaries when the contract is performed on the out of state Indian reservation. Whether there is a constitutional or statutory right afforded to an Indian of one tribe to conduct business free from state regulation with an Indian of a different tribe, both of which are located in Indian Country, under the Indian Commerce Clause. Whether a tribally chartered corporation wholly owned by a member of a federally recognized Indian Tribe is an Inidan for purposes of the protections afforded to Indians under federal law.

History: Petition was filed on 2/3/20. Petition was denied on 10/5/20.

Ruling Below: Big Sandy Rancheria Enterprises v. Becerra. 395 F.Supp.3d 1314.

 

 

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