NY Court of Appeals Affirms State Tax Collection Powers over Indian Retailers

Here is the opinion in White v. Scheiderman.


record on appeal

native outlet motion for leave to appeal

appellant brief

seneca nation amicus brief

cayuga nation amicus brief

state appellee brief

state response to tribal amici

reply brief

New York Court of Appeals Finds Seneca-Owned Company Not Cloaked with Tribal Immunity

Here is the opinion in Sue/Perior Concrete and Paving v. Lewiston Golf Course Corp.

An excerpt:

Defendant Lewiston Golf Course Corporation (Lewiston Golf) is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of the Seneca Nation of Indians, a federally recognized Indian tribe. We are asked to decide whether that corporation is protected from suit by the Seneca Nation’s sovereign immunity. Applying the factors set out in Matter of Ransom v St. Regis Mohawk Educ. & Community Fund (86 NY2d 553 [1995]), we hold that it is not.

Briefs and other materials here:








Lower court materials here. My commentary on the appellate division’s reasoning applies here as well.

State Supreme Court Outcomes: New York and Florida

We’re not statisticians, so these tiny numbers of cases are going to generate wide discrepancies.

In New York, tribal interests have an 88 percent success rate.

In Florida, tribal interests have a 50 percent success rate.

Here are the New York cases:

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Second Circuit Certifies Questions of Indian Taxation to N.Y. Court of Appeals

Here is the opinion in City of New York v. Golden Feather Smokeshop: City of New York v Golden Feather

Here are the questions certified:

(1) Does N.Y. Tax Law § 471-e, either by itself or in combination with the provisions of § 471, impose a tax on cigarettes sold on Native American reservations when some or all of those cigarettes may be sold to persons other than members of the reservation’s nation or tribe?

(2) If the answer to Question 1 is “no,” does N.Y. Tax Law § 471 alone impose a tax on cigarettes sold on Native American reservations when some or all of those cigarettes may be sold to persons other than members of the reservation’s nation or tribe?

Gary Simson on Native American Religious Freedom & State Law

Gary Stimson has posted “Reflections on Religious Freedom: Revisiting ‘Rourke v. Department of Correctional Services,'” published in the Albany Law Review. Here is the abstract:

This contribution to a symposium on religious liberty looks closely at a New York case that illustrates both the inadequacy of federal free exercise law and the importance of state constitutional law. The claimant in the case, a Native American prison guard, had been fired for refusing on religious grounds to abide by a state-wide directive governing prison guards’ hair length. Contrasting the serious burden that the directive placed on the claimant’s religious liberty with the weak justifications that the state offered for requiring the claimant’s adherence to the directive, the article argues the implausibility of the narrow interpretation of the federal Free Exercise Clause that the Supreme Court adopted in 1990 in Employment Division v. Smith. The article then uses the New York case to demonstrate the potential for circumventing the shortcomings of Smith by attention to, and development of, state constitutional law.

Spota v. Jackson (NY Ct. App.) — “Intruders” under NY Indian Law

In Spota v. Jackson, the New York Court of Appeals (Kaye, C.J.) held that state courts have no business deciding who is an “intruder” as contemplated by the New York Indian Law. This case involves the tribal power to exclude, arising ot of a dispute on an individual allotment of a member of the Unkechaug Indian Nation (or Poospatuck).