Neil Gorsuch Indian Law Record as Tenth Circuit Judge

Here are Judge Gorsuch’s Indian law decisions (to be updated as we add details — most recently updated 12:03 12:17 PM eastern):

United Planners Financial Services v. Sac and Fox Nation, 654 Fed.Appx. 376 (10th Cir. 2016) (favoring tribal interests in tribal exhaustion matter)

Ute Indian Tribe v. Myton, 835 F.3d 1255 (10th Cir. 2016)(favoring tribal interests in state-tribal criminal jurisdictional disputes)

Ute Indian Tribe v. State of Utah, 790 F.3d 1000 (10th Cir. 2015) (favoring tribal interests in state-tribal criminal jurisdictional disputes: “In our layered system of trial and appellate courts everyone’s assured at least two chances to air a grievance. Add to this the possibility that a lawsuit might bounce back to the trial court on remand or even rebound its way to appeal yet again — or the possibility that an issue might win interlocutory review — and the opportunities to press a complaint grow abundantly. No doubt our complex and consuming litigation wringer has assumed the shape it has so courts might squeeze as much truth as possible out of the parties’ competing narratives. But sooner or later every case must come to an end. After all, that’s why people bring their disputes to court in the first place: because the legal system promises to resolve their differences without resort to violence and supply “peace and repose” at the end of it all. S. Pac. R.R. Co. v. United States, 168 U.S. 1, 49 (1897). For a legal system to meet this promise, of course, both sides must accept — or, if need be, they must be made to respect — the judgments it generates. Most people know and readily assent to all this. So it’s pretty surprising when a State and several of its counties need a reminder. But that’s what this appeal is all about.”).

United States v. Rentz, 777 F.3d 1105 (10th Cir. 2015) (en banc) (affirming Indian country criminal conviction)

Nowlin v. United States, 581 Fed.Appx. 722 (10th Cir. 2015) (rejecting pro se claim by Indian convict)

Yellowbear v. Lampert, 741 F.3d 48 (10th Cir. 2014) (favoring Indian prisoner in religious freedom matter)

Fletcher v. United States, 730 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2013) (favoring individual Indians in trust dispute with federal government)

Gardner v. Arrowichis, 543 Fed.Appx. 891 (10th Cir. 2013) (rejecting pro se ICRA habeas claim)

Somerlott v. Cherokee Nation Distributors, Inc., 686 F.3d 1144 (10th Cir. 2013) (ruling in favor of tribal interests on procedural grounds but holding tribal corporation not immune from suit) (Gorsuch filed concurring opinion explaining in more detail why tribal corporation not immune; “Of course, Indian tribes are entitled to sovereign immunity absent congressional abrogation. See Kiowa Tribe of Okla. v. Mfg. Techs., Inc., 523 U.S. 751, 759, 118 S.Ct. 1700, 140 L.Ed.2d 981 (1998). And, of course, this immunity is not limited by the type of activity involved or where it takes place. Id. at 758, 118 S.Ct. 1700. But no matter how broadly conceived, sovereign immunity has never extended to a for-profit business owned by one sovereign but formed under the laws of a second sovereign when the laws of the incorporating second sovereign expressly allow the business to be sued. And it doesn’t matter whether the sovereign owning the business is the federal government, a foreign sovereign, state—or tribe.“).

Hydro Resources, Inc. v. EPA, 608 F.3d 1131 (10th Cir. 2010) (en banc) (ruling against tribal interests and EPA in “Indian country” jurisdiction dispute)

Yellowbear v. Attorney General, 380 Fed.Appx. 740 (10th Cir. 2010) (rejecting habeas claim of Indian prisoner on jurisdictional grounds)

Swimmer v. Sebelius, 364 Fed.Appx. 441 (10th Cir. 2010) (dismissing IHS employee’s Title VII complaint for procedural reasons)

Four Corners Nephrology Associates PC v. Mercy Medical Center of Durango, 582 F.3d 1216 (10th Cir. 2009) (favoring medical center servicing Indian country clients in antitrust claim)

United States v. Dolan, 571 F.3d 1022 (10th Cir. 2009) (affirming sentence of Indian convicted of assault)

United States v. Taylor, 514 F.3d 1092 (10th Cir. 2008) (affirming conviction of Indian for assault even where prosecutor had made inappropriate statements: “During opening statements at Johnson Kenneth Taylor’s trial arising out of a fight that he initiated on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation, the prosecutor urged the jury to convict Mr. Taylor in order to “end the cycle of violence” on the reservation. . . . There is no question that the prosecutor’s remark was inappropriate. The jury’s role in a criminal trial is to find facts related to the defendant’s innocence or guilt, a function in which prosecutorial appeals to the resolution of social ills play no useful role. Nevertheless, because Mr. Taylor expressed no dissatisfaction with the ameliorative course adopted by the district court, we are able to review the district court’s failure to issue either a mistrial or further corrective instruction sua sponte only for the presence of plain error. Discerning none, we affirm.“).

United States v. Poole, 545 F.3d 916 (10th Cir. 2008) (affirming Indian country criminal conviction)

United States v. Tucson, 248 Fed.Appx. 959 (10th Cir. 2007) (ruling against Indian country illegal drugs defendant)

Pino v. United States, 507 F.3d 1233 (10th Cir. 2007) (certifying state law question in wrongful death action against IHS)

Here are decisions in which Judge Gorsuch participated but did not write opinion:

United States v. Harry, 816 F.3d 1268 (10th Cir. 2016) (ruling against Indian sexual assault defendant)

Sanders v. Anoatubby, 631 Fed.Appx. 618 (10th Cir. 2015) (favoring tribal interests in immunity matter)

Bonnet v. Harvest (U.S.) Holdings, 741 F.3d 1155 (10th Cir. 2014) (favoring tribal interests on immunity from third-party subpoena)

Lyman v. San Juan County, 588 Fed.Appx. 764 (10th Cir. 2014) (ruling against attorney for filing frivolous lawsuits arising from tribal civil jurisdiction questions)

United States v. Black, 773 F.3d 1113 (10th Cir. 2014) (affirming SORNA conviction)

United States v. Lente, 759 F.3d 1149 (10th Cir. 2014) (affirming Indian country criminal sentence)

WildEarth Guardians v. EPA, 759 F.3d 1196 (10th Cir. 2014) (rejecting challenge to federal implementation plan for tribally owned power plant)

Greene v. Impson, 530 Fed.Appx. 777 (10th Cir. 2013) (ruling against Freedman descendant in Bivens action)

United States v. Begay, 550 Fed.Appx. 604 (10th Cir. 2013) (affirming Indian country sexual assault conviction)

Santana v. Muscogee (Creek) Nation, 508 Fed.Appx. 821 (10th Cir. 2013) (favoring tribal interests on sovereign immunity)

United States v. Williams, 549 Fed.Appx. 813 (10th Cir. 2013) (rejecting defendant’s defense that acts were validated by tribal pharmacy license)

Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Pruitt, 669 F.3d 1159 (10th Cir. 2012) (ruling against tribal interests in tax dispute with state)

Muscogee (Creek) Nation Div. of Housing v. HUD, 698 F.3d 1276 (10th Cir. 2012) (ruling against tribal interests in federal contracting dispute)

Gilmore v. Weatherford, 694 F.3d 1160 (10th Cir. 2012) (ruling against individual Indians in trust accounting matter)

Romero v. Goodrich, 480 Fed.Appx. 489 (10th Cir. 2012) (dismissing ICRA habeas claim as moot)

Valenzuela v. Silversmith, 699 F.3d 1199 (10th Cir. 2011) (requiring ICRA habeas petitioner to exhaust tribal remedies)

United States v. Lehi, 446 Fed.Appx. 96 (10th Cir. 2011) (affirming criminal conviction for assault on BIA officer)

Nanomantube v. Kickapoo Tribe, 631 F.3d 1150 (10th Cir. 2011) (favoring tribal interests in Title VII and sovereign immunity matter)

Miami Tribe of Oklahoma v. United States, 656 F.3d 1129 (10th Cir. 2011) (ruling against tribal interests in jurisdiction dispute with BIA over individual Indian’s restricted fee property)

United States v. Carel, 668 F.3d 1211 (10th Cir. 2011) (affirming constitutionality of SORNA)

United States v. Waseta, 647 F.3d 980 (10th Cir. 2011) (affirming Indian country sexual assault conviction)

United States v. Lente, 647 F.3d 1021 (10th Cir. 2011) (affirming Indian country criminal conviction)

Nahno-Lopez v. Houser, 625 F.3d 1279 (10th Cir. 2010) (favoring tribal interests in boundary dispute with individual Indians)

United States v. Chancellor, 376 Fed.Appx. 826 (10th Cir. 2010) (affirming Indian country conviction)

Muscogee (Creek) Nation v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, 611 F.3d 1222 (10th Cir. 2010) (ruling against tribal interests in tax dispute with state)

United States v. McGill, 359 Fed.Appx. 56 (10th Cir. 2010) (ruling against Indian country defendant)

United States v. Warrior, 403 Fed.Appx. 308 (10th Cir. 2010) (ruling against Indian country defendant)

United States v. Sandoval, 371 Fed.Appx. 945 (10th Cir. 2010) (ruling against Indian country habeas claimant)

United States v. Benally, 560 F.3d 1151 (10th Cir. 2009) (en banc) (voting to deny rehearing in Indian criminal conviction)

United States v. Island, 316 Fed.Appx. 804 (10th Cir. 2009) (affirming conviction for embezzlement from tribe)

Reber v. Steele, 570 F.3d 1206 (10th Cir. 2009) (favoring Indian defendant in habeas matter)

United States v. Lamy, 521 F.3d 1257 (10th Cir. 2008) (ruling against Indian convicted of sexual assault on “Indian country” challenge)

Native American Distributing v. Seneca-Cayuga Tobacco, 546 F.3d 1288 (10th Cir. 2008) (favoring tribal interests on immunity claim)

Yellowbear v. Wyoming Attorney General, 525 F.3d 921 (10th Cir. 2008) (ruling in favor of Indian prisoner on procedural grounds)

United States v. Tsosie, 288 Fed.Appx. 496 (10th Cir. 2008) (ruling against Indian gang member on direct appeal)

United States v. Grigsby, 270 Fed.Appx. 726 (10th Cr. 2008) (ruling against Indian sexual assault defendant)

United States v. Brown, 267 Fed.Appx. 778 (10th Cir. 2008) (affirming Indian country criminal conviction)

United States v. McIntosh, 232 Fed.Appx. 752 (10th Cir. 2007) (ruling against Indian defendant on direct appeal)

United States v. Walter, 223 Fed.Appx. 810 (10th Cir. 2007) (ruling against Indian sexual assault defendant)

United States v. Brown, 247 Fed.Appx. 992 (10th Cir. 2007) (partially affirming sentence for Indian country criminal conviction)

United States v. Lopez, 252 Fed.Appx. 908 (10th Cir. 2007) (affirming Indian country criminal conviction)

United States v. Ladue, 208 Fed.Appx. 680 (10th Cir. 2006) (ruling against Indian country defendant)


12 thoughts on “Neil Gorsuch Indian Law Record as Tenth Circuit Judge

  1. Pat Hall February 1, 2017 / 12:02 pm

    You, too. ..but it will be 75 here today, so I am almost assured of a good day!

  2. Sandino, David@DWR February 1, 2017 / 1:04 pm

    Very helpful. Thank you, David

  3. Patrick Sullivan February 1, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    Thank you and the students for doing this work. Very helpful.

  4. swride February 12, 2017 / 2:06 am

    Yes, this list is very helpful. But a few of the summaries could use some work. For example, U.S. v. Rentz isn’t affirming a criminal conviction, it is construing a sentence enhancement for use of a firearm in a crime of violence. En banc, and an interesting look at his statutory interpretation technique. Gorsuch favors a reduced sentence, and Mr. Rentz probably appreciates that.

  5. swride February 13, 2017 / 9:19 pm

    Back to U.S. v Rentz. In his answer to the Senate Judiciary questionaire he lists it as one of his top ten most significant opinions. Deserves a fresh look.

    Also lists Yellow bear v Lambert. So two of his top ten are federal Indian law decisions.

Comments are closed.