Friday v. U.S. Cert Petition — Not a “Petition to Watch” — Commentary

Tomorrow the Supreme Court likely will deny cert in the Friday v. United States petition. SCOTUSblog does not pick it as a “petition to watch”, which means something. There was a moment when the Supreme Court might have heard this case (and maybe not in a good way, since the United States would be the petitioner then), but the Tenth Circuit joined the Ninth Circuit in upholding the constitutionality of the Bald Eagle Protection Act.

The ironic, even ridiculous, result of these cases is that it is easier for non-Indians to take advantage of the American Indian religious exemptions than it is for Indians. Yesterday, Indianz reported on one such case favoring non-Indians. Here is the argument:

Samuel Wilgus Jr and Raymond Hardman were convicted of possessing feathers without a federal permit. But since they are not enrolled in a federally recognized tribe, they wouldn’t have been able to obtain one. The scheme violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Judge Dee Benson ruled. The men say they are practitioners of Native American religions.  (emphasis added) [Here is the opinion — Wilgus Order]

So, what this means is that the very existence of a regulatory/statutory mechanism for Indians to acquire eagle parts under the Protection Act through the National Eagle Repository — a mechanism that is incontrovertibly useless, a fact that Indian people could conceivably prove (but apparently not a “constitutional fact”) — means that the statute does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But for non-Indians, who can never take advantage of the Repository (and, perhaps, Indian religions), it is a constitutional violation.

I’ve convinced myself. It is ridiculous.

2 thoughts on “Friday v. U.S. Cert Petition — Not a “Petition to Watch” — Commentary

  1. Rich February 19, 2009 / 12:38 pm

    Perhaps we should see the absolute pain and mean spiritedness caused by popular culture characters like A Man Called Horse and Billy Jack. Wannabees and Hobbyists have been able to run roughshod over us and our ceremonies by taking advantage of our elders’ generosity. Our elders and us need to stop this kind of mess by limiting oue ceremonies to us, sometimes even limiting our ceremonies to a single tribe. By opening up their hearts to these culture theives, they have made us use THEIR courts to defend ourselves from bigotry against THEM. So what if we are considered close-minded. The damage done and the damage coming will force us to open our doors to ANYONE who wants to masquerade as one of us and claim rights guaranteed under Freedom of Religion. If they truly loved us and our ways, they would back off and leave us alone and realize that it is their zeal that will destroy our traditional lifestyle. Their selfishness and Man Called Horse attitude that they can become a chief, have clearly shown that part of their soul still maintains that they are better than us. Leave them out of the Sun Dances, peyote meetings and sweat lodges. The humility we know from these ceremonies does not translate well to their way of thinking. Again, if they truly loved us and our ways, they should realize the harm and devastation they are causing. If they choose to ignore this, then we can safely assume their selfishness overrides our concerns.

  2. Glen Douglas February 19, 2009 / 7:21 pm

    Greetings Rich, (Boozhoo)

    Right on !


    Glen Douglas

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