Crack in Sovereignty Dam
Justices restrict Indian courts' jurisdiction
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Wednesday restricted the ability of Indian courts to hear lawsuits involving non-tribal members.
The 5-4 decision in favor of the Plains Commerce Bank came in a dispute involving the Long Family Land and Cattle Co. Inc., an Indian-owned business on the Cheyenne River Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
It was the first Supreme Court case involving Indian law for the court's newest members: Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito. Roberts wrote the majority opinion.
Generally, Indian tribal courts cannot hear disputes between tribal members and nonmembers. One exception enables regulating nonmembers who enter agreements with tribes or their members.
In his opinion, Roberts ruled against the Longs, saying that the exception does not allow tribes to regulate the sale of non-Indian land within a reservation