Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak

Jun 18: In the U.S. Supreme Court, Case Nos. 11–246 and 11–247. Appealed from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. This 8-1 decision addresses a provision of the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), 25 U. S. C. §465, that authorizes the Secretary of the Interior (Secretary) to acquire property "for the purpose of providing land for Indians." Ch. 576, §5, 48 Stat. 985. The Secretary here acquired land in trust for an Indian tribe seeking to open a casino. Respondent David Patchak lives near that land and challenges the Secretary's decision in a suit brought under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U. S. C. §701 et seq. Patchak claims that the Secretary lacked authority under §465 to take title to the land, and alleges economic, environmental, and aesthetic harms from the casino's operation.
    In brief summary, the Supreme Court ruled, "We consider two questions arising from Patchak's action. The first is whether the United States has sovereign immunity from the suit by virtue of the Quiet Title Act(QTA), 86 Stat. 1176. We think it does not. The second is whether Patchak has prudential standing to challenge the Secretary's acquisition. We think he does. We therefore hold that Patchak's suit may proceed."
    The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians (Band) is an Indian tribe residing in rural Michigan. Although the Band has a long history, the Department of the Interior (DOI) formally recognized it only in 1999. See 63 Fed. Reg. 56936 (1998). Two years later,the Band petitioned the Secretary to exercise authority under §465 by taking into trust a tract of land in Wayland Township, Michigan, known as the Bradley Property. The Band's application explained that the Band would use the property "for gaming purposes," with the goal of generating the "revenue necessary to promote tribal economic development, self-sufficiency and a strong tribal government capable of providing its members with sorely needed social and educational programs."
    Access the complete opinion and dissent (click here). Access the docket for the case (click here). Access the briefs in the case (click here). Access the oral arguments transcript for the case (click here). [#Land, #MILand, #SupmCt]
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