From the Democrat and Chronicle:
SYRACUSE — Three federal court decisions regarding Native American land claims in upstate have created legal doctrine that lawscholars meeting in Syracuse described as unsupportable.
About 50 Indian law professors and students discussed the issue Friday at Syracuse University during the eighth annual Haudenosaunee Conference, which continues today. The conference, hosted by the SU Law School’s Center for Indigenous Law, Governance & Citizenship, looks at contemporary legal issues that affect New York’s native peoples.
Referring to a new legal theory espoused in a 2005 decision regarding a tax dispute between the Oneida Nation of New York and the city of Sherrill in Oneida County, Syracuse attorney Joseph Heath said, “It’s racist. It only applies to Indians.”
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Kathryn Fort, staff attorney at the Indigenous Law and Policy Center at Michigan State University, described what she called “new laches” doctrine established by the recent cases. The doctrine departs from the 800-year-old laches theory that says legal complaints can be denied if the plaintiff waits too long and the defendant would be harmed by that delay.
However, even when laches applies, she said, there can still be an equitable remedy — paying for the land taken by illegal treaties, for instance.
In the New York tax and land claim cases, though, no remedy was offered.