From SCOTUSBlog here.
On Tuesday in United States v. Cooley, the Supreme Court upheld a power that tribal governments have long assumed they possessed as a basic necessity of ensuring public safety. The court held that tribal governments — and thus their police officers — retain the power to temporarily stop, and if necessary, search non-Indians traveling on public rights-of-way (highways) through reservations for suspected violations of federal or state laws. The unanimous opinion was authored by Justice Stephen Breyer. The decision represents an important affirmation of tribal inherent sovereign power by the new court and the first time the court has ever found that a tribe’s interest in addressing a threat to its political integrity, economic security, health or welfare was strong enough for the tribe to exert government authority of any kind over a non-Indian.
Here is the unanimous opinion from Justice Breyer.
The question presented is whether an Indian tribe’s police officer has authority to detain temporarily and to search a non-Indian on a public right-of-way that runs through an Indian reservation. The search and detention, we assume, took place based on a potential violation of state or federal law prior to the suspect’s transport to the proper nontribal authorities for prosecution.
We have previously noted that a tribe retains inherent sovereign authority to address “conduct [that] threatens or has some direct effect on . . . the health or welfare of the tribe.” Montana v. United States, 450 U. S. 544, 566 (1981); see also Strate v. A–1 Contractors, 520 U. S. 438, 456, n. 11 (1997). We believe this statement of law governs here. And we hold the tribal officer possesses the authority at issue.
More broadly, cross-deputization agreements are difficult to reach, and they often require negotiation between other authorities and the tribes over such matters as training, reciprocal authority to arrest, the “geographical reach of the agreements, the jurisdiction of the parties, liability of officers performing under the agreements, and sovereign immunity.” Fletcher, Fort, & Singel, Indian Country Law Enforcement and Cooperative Public Safety Agreements, 89 Mich. Bar J. 42, 44 (2010).
Here are the briefs and other background materials.
Background materials here.
Elizabeth Reese’s preview of the case “Tribal police drag messy Indian sovereignty cases back to the court.”
Other Cooley materials are here.
Here are the merits briefs:
Here are the amicus briefs supporting petitioner:
Here are the amicus briefs supporting respondent:
Here are the cert stage materials:
Here are the Ninth Circuit materials:
Here are the district court (D. Mont.) materials: