Second Circuit Decides Cayuga Nation v. Tanner

Here is the opinion.

An excerpt:

Plaintiffs‐Appellants, the Cayuga Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe, and individual officers, employees, and representatives of the Cayuga Nation, filed this action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (David N. Hurd, Judge) against the Village of Union Springs, the Board of Trustees of the Village, and individual Village officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs contend that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701‐2721, preempts the defendants’ efforts to enforce a local anti‐gambling ordinance against a gaming facility located on land owned by Cayuga Nation.

The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case because it could not determine, in light of an ongoing leadership dispute within Cayuga Nation, whether the lawsuit was authorized as a matter of tribal law. Following a motion for reconsideration, the district court additionally held that the individual plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to sue in their own right.

On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court had jurisdiction because the Bureau of Indian Affairs had recognized Clint Halftown, who initiated this suit, as the Cayuga Nation’s “federal representative,” thereby relieving the court of the need to resolve questions of tribal law, and because the individual plaintiffs had standing to challenge the anti‐gaming ordinance. We agree and therefore VACATE the district court’s order dismissing the complaint and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Briefs here.