US v. Sandcrane — Equal Protection Challenge to Major Crimes Act Rejected

Here is the unpublished Ninth Circuit opinion. An excerpt:

Section 2241(c), as applied to Sandcrane, does not violate the Equal Protection Clause, as it does not discriminatorily classify Native Americans on its face. See City of Cleburne, Tex. v. Cleburne Living Center, 473 U.S. 432, 440 (1985). Nor does any disproportionate impact of Section 2241 on Native Americans result from discrimination. See Washington v. Davis, 426 U.S. 229, 241 (1976). Any disproportionate impact Section 2241 has on Native Americans simply reflects the different treatment of criminals under the Major Crimes Act who commit crimes in a federal enclave. See United States v. LeMay, 260 F.3d 1018, 1030 (9th Cir. 2001). The federal government’s exercise of special jurisdiction over Native American affairs through the Major Crimes Act also cannot form a basis for an Equal Protection Clause violation. See United States v. Antelope, 430 U.S. 641, 646 (1977). Therefore, we apply rational basis review to Section 2241, to determine whether “it bears a reasonable relationship to a legitimate governmental interest.” Le May, 260 F.3d at 1031. The deterrence of sexual crimes against children is certainly a legitimate governmental interest. Section 2241 is reasonably related to furthering that goal through the imposition of
an increased penalty for such crimes.