Federal Court Dismisses Michigan’s Challenge to Sault Tribe’s Lansing/Wayne County Gaming Trust Land Application

Opinion here.

Court documents previously posted here.

There is no constitutional tort in play. There is no underlying federal or state law criminal prohibition. There is nothing wrong in principle with filing a land in trust application. To the contrary, such a filing would normally be protected First Amendment activity. The only thing the filing allegedly violated here was a bilateral promise – a contract. Extending Ex parte Young to such a theory would open federal courts to routine breach of contract claims that can and ordinarily should be resolved in the state Court of Claims (when a state contract is at issue), or whatever forum the parties choose for themselves in the case of a tribal contract. Here, the parties did negotiate expressly over both the issues of sovereign immunity and dispute resolution. They concluded in their Compact that neither side was agreeing to waive sovereign immunity, and negotiation and arbitration would be the preferred methods of dealing with disputes.