Fletcher and Khalil on ICWA Preemption and Commandeering

Fletcher and Randall F. Khalil have posted “Preemption, Commandeering, and the Indian Child Welfare Act,” forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review, on SSRN. This paper is part of the law review’s symposium on Interpretation in the States.

The abstract:

This year (2022), the Supreme Court agreed to review wide-ranging constitutional challenges to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) brought by the State of Texas and three non-Indian foster families in the October 2022 Term. The Fifth Circuit, sitting en banc, held that certain provisions of ICWA violated the anticommandeering principle implied in the Tenth Amendment and the equal protection component of the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process Clause.
We argue that the anticommandeering challenges against ICWA are unfounded because all provisions of ICWA provides a set of legal standards to be applied in state which validly and expressly preempt state law without unlawfully commandeering the States’ executive or legislative branches. Congress’s power to compel state courts to apply federal law is long established and beyond question.
Yet even if some provisions of ICWA did violate the Tenth, we argue that Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment sufficiently authorizes Congress’s enactment of ICWA so as to defeat the anti-commandeering concerns. Strangely, no party ever invoked Congress’s power under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to assess its constitutionality. ICWA seems like an obvious candidate for analysis under Congress’s enforcement powers under Section 5. States routinely discriminated against American Indian families on the basis of their race and ancestry (and their religion and culture), and ICWA is designed to remedy the abuses of state courts and agencies.
We further have no doubt that the state legislatures that adopted ICWA in whole, in part, or as modified also possessed the power to do so, even in the event the Supreme Court holds all or portions of ICWA unconstitutional.

The Wisconsin Law School gargoyle.

Fletcher Wisconsin Law Review Symposium Paper on the Indian Law Restatement

Here is “Restatement as Aadizookaan,” forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review. The abstract:

The goal of this essay for the Wisconsin Law Review’s symposium on the Restatement of the Law of American Indians is to develop a framework on the durability of this restatement. The aadizookaanag are unusually durable in terms of their transmission of underlying, foundational lessons, but the stories change all the time. The earth diver story explores and describes the critically important connection between the Anishinaabeg and the creatures of Anishinaabewaki, but only a very broad level of generality. How the Anishinaabe tribal government in the 21st century translates those principles into modern decision making requires new analysis, new stories. Additionally, old aadizookaanag may fade into irrelevance, even disrepute, as times and conditions change.

Law is the same. Restatements are intended to be durable and persuasive, supported by the great weight of authority, but not permanent. There are provisions in the Indian law restatement I believe are truly timeless, while the law restated in some sections is likely to change a great deal over the next few decades. I choose four sections in the restatement and match them with one of the four directions sacred to the Anishinaabeg. The youngest direction, Waabanong, the east, is the most likely to change. The next youngest, Zhaawanong, the south, is older, but still subject to change. Niingaabii’anong, the west, is still older, wiser, less likely to change, but also very dark in its philosophies. Kiiwedinong, the north, is the oldest, wisest, and most durable, yet distant. A restatement section includes black letter law, law that is well settled and indisputable. The reporters’ notes that accompany the black letter law constitute the legal support for that statement of law. The stronger the legal support, more durable the black letter.

In the east, I choose one of the plainest, easiest to restate principles of federal Indian law, the bar on tribal criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians. In the south, I choose the law interpreting the federal waivers of immunity allowing tribes to sue to the United States for money damages. In the west, I choose the darkest, yet perhaps the most foundational principles, the plenary authority of Congress in Indian affairs. For the north, I choose tribal powers, the oldest and most durable of all of the principles in the restatement.


Wisconsin Law Review Restatement Symposium Later Sessions

Kevin Wadz-In-The-Sky and Zeke Fletcher
Lorenzo Guidino
Wenona Singel and Kaighn Smith, Reporters
Cecelia Klingele, Troy Eid, Angela Riley, and Kevin Washburn
Dan Lewerenz, Dale White, John Clancy, Crystal Stonewall, and Dylan Ochoa
Gary Sherman, Martina Gast, Zeke Fletcher, and Kevin Wadzinski

Wisconsin Law Review’s 2021 Symposium: “The Restatement of the Law of American Indians” [Nov. 5-6, 2021]

Once you’re done with TICA tomorrow, head on over to the Wisconsin Law Review’s symposium on the Indian law restatement. The symposium agenda is here.

Stacy Leeds is the keynote speaker:

Check out the podcast with the reporters, Fletcher, Singel, and Smith here.

Fingers crossed on whether we get a gargoyle. . . .

Wisconsin Law Review Publishes Jason Sanders’ “Wolves, Lone and Pack: Ojibwe Treaty Rights and the Wisconsin Wolf Hunt”

Jason Sanders has published “Wolves, Lone and Pack: Ojibwe Treaty Rights and the Wisconsin Wolf Hunt” in the Wisconsin Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

In 2012, Wisconsin authorized the first state hunt of gray wolves. Wisconsin’s interest in wolf depredation is legitimate: the growth in wolf population has exponentially increased human-wolf conflicts and state expense. Yet, Wisconsin shares these wolves; 83 percent of gray wolves reside on Ojibwe reservations or on territory ceded by the Ojibwe, where the Tribes still have resource rights. The Tribes vehemently oppose the wolf hunt. The Ojibwe maintain a strong cultural kinship with wolves and have traditionally prohibited wolf hunting. The Tribes named wolves a “tribally protected species,” asserting a right to protect all the wolves shared with Wisconsin. Historically, the Tribes and the State cooperatively managed shared resources. However, the State initiated the wolf hunt despite tribal protestations, instigating the first break from cooperative management in decades. Both sovereigns have legitimate and conflicting interests and appear to risk their first major treaty rights litigation in decades.

This Comment analyzes the extent of each sovereign’s wolf rights in light of biological research and existing Indian law precedents. The first issue is the scope of the State’s obligation to respect the Tribes’ sovereign rights to protect and perpetuate reservation wolf packs. The second issue is the extent of the Tribes’ rights to protect ceded-territory wolves away from reservations. This Comment argues that the Tribes can protect and perpetuate reservation wolves as a component of inherent sovereignty. Wisconsin must implement a wolf policy that respects that sovereignty, including a hunt-free “buffer zone” of some wolf territory directly adjoining the reservation. However, the Tribes’ claim to protect all shared wolves is untenable, as tribal rights over wolves away from the reservation are much weaker. But the Tribes have rights correlated to those wolves and are entitled, at minimum, to a policy that ensures species survival; additionally, the Tribes can consider other options to protect wolves. Ultimately, this Comment proposes that both sovereigns can and should resolve this conflict through negotiation, continuing the tradition of cooperative management, and avoiding lengthy and expensive litigation.

Nick Reo and myself have a short response to the paper coming out in the online version of the Wisconsin Law Review soon.

Jason Sanders on Wisconsin’s Mi’ingan Hunt

Anishinaabe law student and scholar Jason Sanders has posted, “Wolves, Lone and Pack: Ojibwe Treaty Rights and the Wisconsin Wolf Hunt,” his student note forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

In 2012, Wisconsin authorized the first state hunt of gray wolves. Wisconsin’s interest in wolf depredation is legitimate: the growth in wolf population has exponentially increased human-wolf conflicts and state expense. Yet, Wisconsin shares these wolves; 83 percent of gray wolves reside on Ojibwe reservations or on territory ceded by the Ojibwe, where the Tribes still have resource rights. The Tribes vehemently oppose the wolf hunt. The Ojibwe maintain a strong cultural kinship with wolves and have traditionally prohibited wolf hunting. The Tribes named wolves a “tribally protected species,” asserting a right to protect all the wolves shared with Wisconsin. Historically, the Tribes and the State cooperatively managed shared resources. However, the State initiated the wolf hunt despite tribal protestations, instigating the first break from cooperative management in decades. Both sovereigns have legitimate and conflicting interests and appear to risk their first major treaty rights litigation in decades.

This Comment analyzes the extent of each sovereign’s wolf rights in light of biological research and existing Indian law precedents. The first issue is the scope of the State’s obligation to respect the Tribes’ sovereign rights to protect and perpetuate reservation wolf packs. The second issue is the extent of the Tribes’ rights to protect ceded-territory wolves away from reservations. This Comment argues that the Tribes can protect and perpetuate reservation wolves as a component of inherent sovereignty. Wisconsin must implement a wolf policy that respects that sovereignty, including a hunt-free “buffer zone” of some wolf territory directly adjoining the reservation. However, the Tribes’ claim to protect all shared wolves is untenable, as tribal rights over wolves away from the reservation are much weaker. But the Tribes have rights correlated to those wolves and are entitled, at minimum, to a policy that ensures species survival; additionally, the Tribes can consider other options to protect wolves. Ultimately, this Comment proposes that both sovereigns can and should resolve this conflict through negotiation, continuing the tradition of cooperative management, and avoiding lengthy and expensive litigation.

Recommended New Scholarship: Audrey MacFarland’s “The Properties of Instability”

We don’t usually recommend new scholarship that doesn’t really touch on American Indian Law in some way, but this paper struck a chord.

Audrey MacFarland has posted her paper, “The Properties of Instability: Markets, Predation, Racialized Geography, and Property Law,” which is forthcoming in the Wisconsin Law Review.

Here is the abstract:

A central, symbolic image supporting property ownership is the image of stability. This symbol motivates most because it allows for settled expectations, promotes investment, and fulfills a psychological need for predictability. Despite the symbolic image, property is home to principles that promote instability, albeit a stable instability. This Article considers an overlooked but fundamental issue: the recurring instability experienced by minority property owners in ownership of their homes. This is not an instability one might attribute solely to insufficient financial resources to retain ownership, but instead reflects an ongoing pattern, exemplified throughout the twentieth century, of purposeful involuntary divestment of land owned by members of racial minorities, particularly Black Americans. The subprime mortgage crisis, the most current manifestation of this involuntary land loss, can be attributed to property doctrine’s policy embrace of markets and importation of contract principles such as the “freedom of contract.” This embrace of markets and contracts ignores the reality that real estate markets are racially segregated, and due to the nature of those disparate markets, easily exploitable. The current racially concentrated subprime mortgage crisis has torn the stable property image apart by revealing longstanding truths: that fraud, exploitation, and desperation are not anomalous. These truths present a disquieting reality: that the persistent and enduring experience for minorities is instability. They also present an overlooked insight that there is a dark side of property ownership: that fraud, exploitation, and desperation are the bad that enables the good of property markets. Because this “bad” is both ubiquitous and geographically situated, it suggests that stability for some within the system of property ownership is provided at the expense of instability for others. This Article argues that we should begin to pay attention to an under-theorized stick in the bundle of property rights: “the right to keep.”

Carla Pratt on Tribal Miscegenation Laws

Carla Pratt (Penn State) has published “Loving Indian Style: Maintaining Racial Caste and Tribal Sovereignty Through Sexual Assimilation” in the Wisconsin Law Review as part of the Review’s symposium on Loving v. Virginia.

Here’s the intro:

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