Cert Petition in Seneca Nation Citizen’s Treaty-Based Tax Immunity Claim

Here is the petition in Perkins v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue:

Perkins v. Commissioner Cert Petition

Question presented:

This Court is presented with a question of first impression, as to the taxability of income derived from the sale of sand and gravel, mined from treatyprotected land by an enrolled member of the Seneca Nation of Indians (“Seneca Nation”). Upon the granting of certiorari, the Court will examine the language in two federal treaties, promising not to disturb the “free use and enjoyment” of lands by the Seneca Nation and “their Indian friends residing thereon and united with them,” and protecting these lands “from all taxes” for any purpose. Treaty with the Six Nations (“Canandaigua Treaty”), art. III, Nov. 11, 1794, 7 Stat. 45; Treaty with the Senecas (“1842 Treaty”), art. 9th, May 20, 1842, 7 Stat. 590. Congress has explicitly stated the Internal Revenue Code “shall be applied to any taxpayer with due regard to any treaty obligation of the United States which applies to such taxpayer.” 26 U.S.C.A. § 894 (a)(1)(West).

The question presented is whether the United States Court of Appeals and the United States Tax Court have given “due regards” to the treaty obligations of the United States by finding these treaties had no textual support for an exemption from federal income tax applicable to an enrolled Seneca member whose income is derived from the
lands of the Seneca Nation. Perkins v. Comm’r, 970 F.3d 148, 162-67 (2d. Cir. 2020).

Lower court materials here.

SCOTUS Denies Cert in Yakama v. Yakima County Criminal Jurisdiction Dispute

Here is today’s order list.

Cert stage briefs and links to lower court materials here.

Federal Court Dismisses Remaining Comanche Claims against US over Chickasaw Casino

Here are the materials in Comanche Nation of Oklahoma v. de la Vega [formerly Zinke, then Bernhardt, and now should be Haaland] (W.D. Okla.):

106-1 Second Amended Complaint

113 Motion to Dismiss

120 Response

123 Reply

124 DCT Order

Prior posts here, here, and here.

Seneca County v. Cayuga Indian Nation Cert Petition

Here:

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.

Amicus Briefs Supporting Petitioner in United States v. Cooley

Here:

19-1414 Amici SiouxTribes

19-1414 Amicus Brief of NationalIndigenousWomensResourceCenter

19-1414 Indian Law Scholars Cooley Brief

19-1414 tsac Former U.S. Attorneys

19-1414 tsac Members of Congress

19-1414 tsac The Cayuga Nation

19-1414 Ute Amici Brief

Final NCAI-Tribal Governments Amici Brief-US v Cooley 1-15-21

Other Cooley materials are here.

SCOTUS Denies Cert in FMC Corp. v. Shoshone-Bannock Tribes

Here is today’s order list.

The cert stage briefs in the FMC case are here.

Lower court materials here.

Fletcher and Fort’s Rewritten Opinion in Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl

Fletcher and Fort posted “Intimate Choice and Autonomy: Adoptive Couple v. Baby Girl,” forthcoming in CRITICAL RACE JUDGMENTS (Cambridge Univ. Press, eds. Bennett Capers, Devon Carbado, Robin A. Lenhart, and Angela Onwuachi-Willig) (forthcoming 2021).

As if there was any doubt, we have reached the opposite outcome as the Supreme Court did back in 2013. A few excerpts:

This case is about a little girl (Baby Girl) who is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, like her father, grandparents, and a multitude of generations before her. American Indian tribal citizenship with a federally recognized tribe is a unique concept in American law. E.g., Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, 436 U.S. 49, 55 (1978) (“[Indian tribes] have power to make their own substantive law in internal matters. . . .”). Tribal citizens are beneficiaries of the federal government’s trust relationship with Indian tribes, and the federal government has promised to tribal citizens for centuries to assist in the maintenance of tribal governments, cultures, and sovereignty. Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515, 556 (1831) (“[The Cherokee treaty], thus explicitly recognizing the national character of the Cherokees, and their right of self government; thus guarantying their lands; assuming the duty of protection, and of course pledging the faith of the United States for that protection; has been frequently renewed, and is now in full force.”).

And:

The ethically dubious acts of the Petitioners in this case extends to this Court’s amici. Several amici invoked the racist dog whistle of referring to the Petitioners as the “only family” Baby Girl has ever known. E.g., Brief for Guardian Ad Litem, as Representative of Respondent Baby Girl, Supporting Reversal at 56 (“Indeed, it is hard to imagine what liberty interest is more important to a 27-month old child than maintaining the only family bonds she has ever known, absent a strong showing of necessity.”) (emphasis added); Brief of Amica Curiae Birth Mother in Support of Petitioners at 3 (“The decision below effectively negated Birth Mother’s decision to place Baby Girl with Adoptive Couple, and ripped Baby Girl from the only family she has ever known, in derogation of both Birth Mother’s and Baby Girl’s rights and expectations under state law.”) (emphasis added); Brief of Amici Curiae Bonnie and Shannon Hofer; Roger, Loreal, and Sierra Lauderbaugh; and Craig and Esther Adams in Support of Petitioners at 38 (“[T]he lower court took non-Indian Petitioners’ adopted Indian daughter from them – destroying the only family she has ever known.”) (emphasis added); Brief of Amici Curiae National Council for Adoption in Support of Petitioners at 13-14 (“ICWA is implemented in some cases to traumatize children by forcing them into completely unknown environments, traumatizing them by removal from the only family they’d ever felt a connection with and imposing the developmental delays that come with the traumatic removal from a secure attachment.”) (emphasis added).[1] It appears that for some of our amici, the “only family” that matters is the non-Indian Petitioners’ family. For these amici, the Indian family and other biological relatives are strangers and foreigners. The only pain and shame of removal and separation that matters is that of the non-Indian family. It is apparent the “only family” dog whistle is designed to distract our attention from the ever-present bias against Indian parents and relatives in the child welfare and adoption system. This we will not accept. As noted above, this Court long has been complicit in dehumanizing Indian people. In Professor Harris’ words, “[C]ourts established whiteness as a prerequisite to the exercise of enforceable property rights.” Harris, supra, at 1724. No longer. We additionally suspect that this form of advocacy implicates American Bar Association Rules of Professional Conduct 3.4 (Fairness to Opposing Party and Counsel), 3.5 (Impartiality & Decorum of the Tribunal), 4.4 (Respect for Rights of Third Persons), and 8.4 (Misconduct).


[1] One commentator even referred to the Cherokee family here, who descend from an Indigenous nation that has been present in this hemisphere since time immemorial, as “foreign.” Thomas Sowell, Indian Child Welfare Act does not protect kids, Denton Record-Chronicle, Feb. 1, 2018, at 6A (“This little girl is just the latest in a long line of Indian children who have been ripped out of the only family they have ever known and given to someone who is a stranger to them, often living on an Indian reservation that is foreign to them.”) (emphasis added).