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U.S. Supreme Court

SCOTUS to Decide if Suit to Close Tribal Casino Can Proceed

Posted Dec 13, 2011 12:40 PM CDT
By Mark Hansen

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The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a lawsuit to close a tribal casino in Michigan can move forward.

The court agreed Monday to hear arguments in two consolidated sovereign immunity cases over Indian trust lands: Match--E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak and Salazar v. Patchak, multiple sources report.

The tribe, also known as the Gun Lake Band, opened a casino last year on a rural 147-acre tract in Wayland Township, 20 miles south of Grand Rapids. But casino opponent David Patchak sued to shut it down by challenging the way the federal government had placed the land in trust for the tribe.

A federal judge threw out the lawsuit, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held earlier this year (PDF) that the case could proceed.

Matthew Fletcher, director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University's School of Law, told Associated Press the court's willingness to hear the appeal of a tribe looking to overturn a lower court decision was unusual.

"[It] may indicate the justices are looking to reverse the lower court's ruling," he said.

The case will be argued next year.

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