Whether Eleventh Amendment sovereign immunity and tribal sovereign immunity deprived the lower courts of subject-matter jurisdiction over the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe’s claim, requiring dismissal on that ground under United States Supreme Court precedent including Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83 (1996).
Whether, under United States Supreme Court precedent including Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574 (1999) and Sinochem Int’l Co. v. Malaysia Intern. Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422 (2007), an issue preclusion dismissal is a merits dismissal and excluded from the threshold grounds among which a federal court may choose to dismiss a case before establishing its subject-matter jurisdiction.
Whether, under United States Supreme Court precedent including Sinochem Int’l Co. v. Malaysia Intern. Shipping Corp., 549 U.S. 422 (2007), jurisdictional issues in this case were not “arduous” or “difficult to determine” because the lower courts could readily determine that they lacked jurisdiction, such that those courts committed reversible error in bypassing determination of their subject-matter jurisdiction and proceeding to dismiss the case instead with prejudice on issue preclusion grounds.
Whether the Maine Indian Settlement Acts— consistent with this Court’s precedents on statutory interpretation and the Indian canons of construction— codify the historical understanding of the Penobscot Nation, the United States, and the State that the Penobscot Reservation encompasses the Main Stem of the Penobscot River.
[missing from the court’s website are the initial briefs of the tribe and state, and the Hoh-Quiluete-Quinault amicus brief]
The Makah IndianTribe appeals the superior court’s order denying a constitutional writ to block a land exchange proposed by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and approved by the Board of Natural Resources. The land exchange, called the “Peninsula Exchange,” would exchange state forestlands with forestlands owned by a private timber company, Merrill & Ring. The Peninsula Exchange parcels border tribal lands of a number of Indiantribes, including the Makah, the Hoh, the Quileute, and the Quinault. The Makah argue that DNR violated (1) the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) by failing to conduct a SEPA environmental review prior to approval of the proposal and (2) the public lands management statute, Title 79 RCW, by insufficiently addressing the Makah’s concerns.
The Hoh, Quileute, and Quinault Tribes (the Amici Tribes) filed a joint amicus curiae brief requesting dismissal under CR 19, arguing that they are necessary and indispensable parties who cannot be joined due to their sovereign immunity. The Amici Tribes claim that the Peninsula Exchange parcels are part of their respective treaty hunting areas. The Makah argue that the Amici Tribes are not necessary and indispensable parties under CR 19 because this appeal can be decided without a determination of treaty rights of various tribes as the Makah’s claims are procedural challenges to DNR’s Peninsula Exchange.
Because we resolve this appeal without implicating the treaty rights of the various interested tribes, we hold that the Amici Tribes are not necessary or indispensable parties. Accordingly, dismissal of this appeal under CR 19 is not appropriate.
DNR’s interpretation of the SEPA categorical exemption is entitled to substantial weight and its determination that a land exchange is categorically exempt from SEPA review will be overturned only if it is clearly erroneous. We hold that DNR properly interpreted and applied the SEPA categorical exemption for state land exchanges to determine that the Peninsula Exchange was categorially exempt from SEPA review and that DNR’s finding that the Peninsula Exchange was exempt from SEPA was not clearly erroneous. Additionally, DNR complied with the public lands management statute by adequately consulting with the Makah prior to the Board’s approval of the Peninsula Exchange. Because the superior court’s decision was not manifestly unreasonable, or exercised on untenable grounds or for untenable reasons, we hold that the superior court did not abuse its discretion by denying the Makah a constitutional writ. We affirm.
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).