From the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals:
And, contrary to UMN’s arguments, Saint Regis did not
base its reasoning on implied abrogation of tribal sovereign
immunity. Instead, Saint Regis concluded that IPR was an
agency reconsideration proceeding to which sovereign immunity does not apply in the first instance. 896 F.3d at 1329. This reasoning applies equally to states as it does to
Article discussing the opinion here.
Here is the opinion in Shopbell v. State of Washington Dept. of Fish and Wildlife:
We posted materials on this case here.
Here are the pleadings in Seminole Tribe of Florida v. State of Florida (N.D. Fla.):
37 Seminole Motion for Summary J
38 Florida Motion for Summary J
Motion to dismiss stage pleadings here.
Here are the materials in Skokomish Indian Tribe v. Goldmark (W.D. Wash.):
59 State Defendants Motion to Dismiss
60 Prosecuting Attys Motion to Dismiss
67 Tribal Amici Motion to Dismiss
71 Skokomish Reponse
116 DCT Order Dismissing Complaint
Being fully advised, the court GRANTS both motions on grounds that Skokomish Indian Tribe failed to join certain other Indian tribes in this action. These other tribes are required parties under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19, but cannot be joined due to their sovereign immunity. Because the court concludes that the action cannot proceed “in equity and good conscience” without these other tribes, see id., the court dismisses Skokomish Indian Tribe’s action without prejudice. With respect to Defendants Goldmark and Young only, the court also grants Defendants’ motions to dismiss on grounds of Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity and because Skokomish Indian Tribe has failed to state a claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Nevertheless, despite granting Defendants’ motions, the court also grants Skokomish Indian Tribe leave to amend its Amended Complaint.
We posted the complaint here.
This is a big deal for American Indians asserting religious freedom claims against state governments.
Here is today’s opinion in Sossamon v. Texas, authored by Justice Thomas.
From the Court’s syllabus:
After this Court held that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 was unconstitutional as applied to state and local governments because it exceeded Congress’ power under §5 of the Fourteenth Amendment, see City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U. S. 507, Congress passed the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) pursuant to its Spending Clause and Commerce Clause authority. RLUIPA targets two areas of state and local action: land–use regulation, RLUIPA §2, 42 U. S. C. §2000cc, and restrictions on the religious exercise of institutionalized persons, RLUIPA §3, §2000cc–1. It also provides an express private cause of action for “appropriate relief against a government,” §2000cc–2(a), including, inter alia, States, their instrumentalities and officers, and persons acting under color of state law, §2000cc–5(4)(A).
Petitioner Sossamon, a Texas prison inmate, sued respondents, the State and prison officials, seeking injunctive and monetary relief under RLUIPA for prison policies that prevented inmates from attending religious services while on cell restriction for disciplinary infractions and that barred use of the prison chapel for religious worship. Granting respondents summary judgment, the District Court held that sovereign immunity barred Sossamon’s claims for monetary relief. The Fifth Circuit affirmed, holding that the statutory phrase “appropriate relief against a government” did not unambiguously notify Texas that its acceptance of federal funds was conditioned on a waiver of sovereign immunity to claims for monetary relief.
Held: States, in accepting federal funding, do not consent to waive their sovereign immunity to private suits for money damages under RLUIPA.