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Mon Jun 18, 2012, 11:28 PM

What the Supremes did Monday, June 18, from SCOTUSblog:

Opinion analysis: Court allows challenge to land acquisition for Indian casino
By Kevin Russell on Jun 18, 2012 at 4:45 pm

This morning the Court issued its decision in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak. The Court held, by a vote of eight to one, that the federal government had waived its sovereign immunity to a suit challenging the government’s takeover of certain land in trust for an Indian tribe. [I previewed the case for the blog earlier this year.] The case arose when a Michigan Indian tribe persuaded the federal government to take certain land into trust for the tribe, thereby facilitating the tribe’s construction of a casino on the property. A neighbor who opposed the casino project sued the federal government, arguing that it lacked the power to take the land into trust for the tribe because the tribe was not federally recognized in 1934 – the year Congress enacted the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), which authorized the government to take land into trust for Indian tribes.

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Campaign Finance case reset.

The Supreme Court will take another look at the Montana campaign finance case at its private Conference on Thursday, according to the Court’s electronic docket. The Justices had considered the case (American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, 11-1179) at last week’s Conference, but took no action on it Monday. Also relisted for the Thursday Conference are two petitions on the constitutionality of displaying a large Christian cross on public land on a hill, Mount Soledad, above San Diego (11-998 and 11-1115).

Promises must be kept.


The federal government is often accused of spending money it does not have. It may have to do just that, a divided Supreme Court decided on Monday, if it signs a contract that promises to pay in full when the work is done, but runs out of the money provided by Congress. There is a sort of government “slush fund” that might be tapped, the Court indicated, but otherwise it is up to Congress to figure out how to fulfill the government’s financial commitments; it can’t force contractors to do without all of what they earned. Those were the key points decided by a 5-4 vote in the case of Salazar (Interior Secretary) v. Ramah Navajo Chapter (docket 11-551).

The case was about contracts between the federal government and hundreds of Indian tribes, under which the tribes are paid to do for themselves what federal agencies otherwise would have provided in the federal government’s special relationship with Native American groups, such as education or police work. But the legal conclusion reinforced Monday went well beyond deals with Indians, and imposed on the federal government the flat duty to pay in full when a contractor performs one side of a bargain after getting that promise, even when Congress had not explicitly provided enough to pay all such contractors in full. The decision, while very important to tribal governments (they may be eligible for more than $1 billion in reimbursements), was equally important to government contractors in general.

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The Court also issued opinions in four argued cases this morning.

Justice Kagan announced the first opinion of the morning, in Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak. By a vote of eight to one, the Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, holding that the federal government has waived its sovereign immunity from Patchak’s suit under the Administrative Procedure Act, in which he alleges that Section 465 of the Indian Reorganization Act did not authorize the Secretary of the Interior to acquire into trust property that the Band intended to use for “gaming purposes” because the Band was not a federally recognized tribe when the Indian Reorganization Act was enacted in 1934. Moreover, the Court held, Patchak has prudential standing to challenge the Secretary’s acquisition of the land in question. Justice Sotomayor filed a dissenting opinion.

Justice Sotomayor announced the second opinion of the day, in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter.
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Reply What the Supremes did Monday, June 18, from SCOTUSblog: (Original post)
elleng Jun 2012 OP
freshwest Jun 2012 #1

Response to elleng (Original post)

Tue Jun 19, 2012, 12:18 AM

1. Thanks for posting the most interesting parts of the blog. Will the 1934 law disenfranchise or not?

I can't tell by what it says, it seem contradictory. I want them to hurry up and get on with the MT case to end Citizens United.

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