Neither decision is a big surprise, as the Court grants cert in only a small percentage of cert petitions. The trademark suit against the Redskins will continue through different plaintiffs, but the laches argument that served to defeat the Harjo plaintiffs applies with virtually equal force to the new plaintiffs. (AP article here).
The Elliott case is a welcome relief, given that the Court seems to grant cert petitions filed by non-Indians against tribal jurisdiction almost randomly. Here, one suspects the fact that the Ninth Circuit merely was remanding to tribal court for a decision on the merits may have some importance, but the Court has previously granted cert in cases prior to a tribal court decision on the merits (see Strate). The takeaway from the Elliott cert petition denial is simply that one must continue to assume the Court continues to look at tribal jurisdiction cases carefully, but makes its certiorari decisions based on some utterly random calculus.
We surely would love to know if Justice Sotomayor weighed in on these cases in any way, and if so, how.