Self v. Cher-Ae Heights Indian Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria [immovable property exception]


Cert Petition

Lower court materials here.


State Amicus Brief

Seneca County Amicus

Brief in Opposition

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Two Indian Law Cases

Here is today’s order list.

Here are the cert petitions in the two denied cases, Phillips v. Oneida Indian Nation and Pierson v. Hudson Insurance Company (Pierson Cert Petition).

Seneca County v. Cayuga Indian Nation Cert Petition


2021-02-17 Seneca County Petition Final

Lower court materials here.

Question presented:

This Court has twice granted certiorari to decide whether tribal sovereign immunity bars lawsuits concerning rights to property that a tribe acquires on the open market. See Upper Skagit Indian Tribe v. Lundgren, 138 S.Ct. 1649 (2018); Madison Cty. v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y., 562 U.S. 960 (2010) (mem.). Both times, however, subsequent developments prevented the Court from definitively answering the question. This case presents an opportunity to definitively answer that important and recurring question. In the decision below, the Second Circuit doubled down on the holding that this Court granted certiorari to review in Madison County, and again robbed this Court’s decision in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y., 544 U.S. 197 (2005), of practical effect by holding that if an Indian tribe purchases land on the open market and refuses to pay property taxes, there is nothing a local jurisdiction can do about it. That decision cannot be reconciled with Sherrill, and it effectively grants tribes a super immunity by rejecting the “uniform authority in support of the view that” the “immovable property” exception would preclude any sovereign’s efforts to invoke sovereign immunity in these circumstances. Upper Skagit, 138 S.Ct. at 1657 (Thomas, J., dissenting).
The question presented is:
Whether tribal sovereign immunity bars local tax authorities from collecting lawfully imposed property taxes by foreclosing on real property that a tribe has acquired on the open market.

California COA Rejects Immovable Property Exception to Tribal Immunity

Here is the opinion in Self v. Cher-AE Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria:

California COA Opinion


Opening Brief

Response Brief


Second Circuit Affirms Oneida Victory in Property Dispute

Here is the opinion in Oneida Indian Nation v. Phillips.

Here are the briefs:

Phillips Brief

Oneida Brief


Lower court materials here.