Supreme Court Affirms Dismissal of Suit in Patchak v. Zinke

Opinion here.

THOMAS, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, in which BREYER, ALITO, and KAGAN, JJ., joined. BREYER, J., filed a concurring opinion. GINSBURG, J., filed an opinion concurring in the judgment, in which SOTOMAYOR, J., joined. SOTOMAYOR, J., filed an
opinion concurring in the judgment. ROBERTS, C. J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which KENNEDY and GORSUCH, JJ., joined.


Petitioner, David Patchak, sued the Secretary of the
Interior for taking land into trust on behalf of an Indian
Tribe. While his suit was pending in the District Court,
Congress enacted the Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation
Act (Gun Lake Act or Act), Pub. L. 113–179, 128 Stat.
1913, which provides that suits relating to the land “shall
not be filed or maintained in a Federal court and shall be
promptly dismissed.” Patchak contends that, in enacting
this statute, Congress impermissibly infringed the judicial
power that Article III of the Constitution vests exclusively
in the Judicial Branch. Because we disagree, we affirm
the judgment of the United States Court of Appeals for the
District of Columbia Circuit.

Previous posts here.

SCOTUSBlog (Ronald Mann) Preview of Patchak v. Zinke


An excerpt, and a little horn tooting:

The most telling argument for the government is the recitation (in an amicus brief filed by a group of law professors) of the dozens of statutes Congress has adopted through the centuries resolving Indian land disputes and dealing high-handedly with Indian lands. It is notable that Bank Markazi emphasized Congress’ supreme authority over foreign affairs in its rejection of the Klein claim in that case. Congress’ plenary authority to regulate and protect Indian tribes leaves room for a similar resolution of this case without explicitly rejecting the Klein rule. Bank Markazi of course said nothing about Congress’s power over Indian affairs, so that result wouldn’t really follow from Bank Markazi. It would, though, afford the justices a way to decide the case narrowly, which seems to have been their goal in these cases. The key thing to watch for in the argument will be any sense that any of the members of the Bank Markazi majority show a willingness to treat this case differently than they did that one.

You can read that amicus brief here, along with the rest of the briefs

Patchak v. Zinke Background Materials

Here are the merits briefs:

Patchak Merits Brief

Joint Appendix

US Merits Brief

Gun Lake Merits Brief

Patchak Merits Reply

Here are the amicus briefs:

Federal Courts Scholars Brief in Support of Petitioners

Fed. Cts. and Indian Law Scholars in Support of Respondents

Brief Amici Curiae of Wayland Township, et al. in Support of Respondents

Brief for the U.S. House of Representatives as Amicus Curiae Supporting Respondents

Brief Amicus Curiae of National Congress of American Indians in Support of Respondents

Brief Amicus Curiae of Professor Edward A Hartnett in Support of Respondents

Here are the cert stage briefs:

Patchak Cert Petition

Federal Cert Opp

Gun Lake Cert Opp

Patchak Reply

Here are the D.C. Circuit materials:


Patchak Opening Brief

Tribe Response Brief

US Response Brief

Patchak Reply Brief

District court materials:

Patchak v Jewell – Gun Lake Tribe (Judge Leon Opinion)

78 Gun Lake Tribe Motion for Summary J

80-1 Patchak Motion for Summary J

85 US Opposition

86 Gun Lake Tribe Opposition

87 Patchak Opposition to Gun Lake Tribe Motion

88 Gun Lake Tribe Reply

90 Patchak Reply

Legislative materials:

Senate Hearing

House Report

Gun Lake Trust Land Reaffirmation Act