Federal Court Rejects Challenge to Major Crimes Act Conviction, Defendant Argued Justice Thomas’ View of Indian Law

Here are the materials in United States v. Bearcomesout (D. Mont.):

26 Motion to Dismiss

30 Response

31 Reply

32 DCT Order

An excerpt:

Citing decades of “schizophrenic” case law, Bearcomesout argues that the law has evolved such that the Northern Cheyenne Tribe’s concept of self-governance and sovereignty has disappeared. As a result, Bearcomesout argues that the Tribe is “subject to the external whim of the United States” which inherently extinguishes the tribe’s sovereignty. Because the Tribe is not sovereign, Bearcomesout argues that her prosecution in Northern Cheyenne Tribal Court was in essence a federal prosecution, in violation of the Double Jeopardy Clause.

The obvious disagreement about the state of tribal sovereignty among Supreme Court justices contained in various dissents and concurrences over the years unquestionably creates uncertainty and doubt about whether the term “independent sovereign” still appropriately applies to Indian tribes. Nevertheless, as recently as June of this year, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the rule from Wheeler and its progeny that tribal sovereignty continues to exist, at least as it relates to Double Jeopardy….