Cozy Kittens, Pink Cupcakes, and Gambling Addictions
6 months ago
The Impact of Patchak on the Graton Rancheria Casino Lawsuits
On June 19, 2012, Fitch, a financial analysis firm, correctly asserted in a press release that the Graton Rancheria casino project in California could be impacted by the Supreme Court's decision in the Patchak case.
On June 20, 2012, Fitch released a claimed correction (they probably got a call from Station Casinos) and asserted that the Department of Interior's (DOI) land-into-trust approval for Graton Rancheria was authorized by Congress in the Omnibus Indian Advancement Act of 2000, and that puts the case outside the scope of the Patchak decision.
Fitch's correction reflects confusion on the significance of the Patchak case, and in fact contains the error.
While the underlying claim in the Patchak case is different from the underlying claims against the Graton casino, the Supreme Court decision this week does not concern the underlying claim but rather concerns procedural issues that arise in both cases.
In Patchak, the plaintiff challenged DOI's decision to accept title to land in Michigan in trust for the tribe, pursuant to its authority under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934.
In Carcieri the Supreme Court had decided that the IRA allowed DOI to take land into trust only for tribes which exited in 1934, and Patchak asserts that the Gun Lake tribe did not exist in 1934.
[This is the same for both the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Aquinnah Tribe in Massachusetts.]
The Federal government asserted two procedural impediments as precluding review of the case on the merits. The government asserted that the Federal government had sovereign immunity under the Quiet Title Act, and that in any event, the plaintiffs lacked prudential standing because the IRA was not passed to protect their interests.
The government commonly asserts these defenses in all cases challenging approvals for Indian casinos, whether concerning taking land into trust, approving management contracts or compacts, or making Indian land determinations.
In Patchak, the Supreme Court ruled on the procedural issues and ruled that the lower courts should consider the case on its merits.
The current litigation, Stop the Casino 101 Coalition v. Brown against the Governor's Graton Rancheria gaming compact, was brought in state court and challenges the ratification of the state gambling compact between Graton Rancheria and the state pursuant to Article IV, Section 19 of the California Constitution. That provision allows the state to enter into compacts with tribes for the operation of casino games on Indian lands in California.
Plaintiffs challenge that the subject land is owned by the Graton Indians but that they have no sovereignty over the land. If the compact is approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs Secretary Donald Laverdure or allowed to go into effect, a second suit in federal court would follow under the same theory.
Prior to the Patchak decision, it would have been expected that the government and the tribe would assert that the same defenses considered in the Patchak case. Now assertion of those defenses have been precluded by the Supreme Court. Things have gotten easier, thanks to Patchak.
STC101 was one of 25 California community groups that filed a joint amicus curiae brief in the Patchak case.
Park's Stinky Deal with the Casino |
Yes, the attorneys are already looking into things
Residents of Rohnert Park oppose the casino 4 to 1, but that's never stopped their city council from going boldly forth.
People want to know what's being done about the sewer agreement with the casino. Not to worry: our attorneys are already looking into it. Our goal? No sewer agreement with the casino!
The city council was so spooked by the thought of a new lawsuit, they actually went behind closed doors to vote at last Tuesday's meeeting!
But that shouldn't surprise any long-time Rohnert Park residents: their city council has always liked to operate behind closed doors, in the back rooms, and on the Q-T.
Remember this at election time....