The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s lawsuit and protests over the Dakota Access pipeline dominated headlines in the latter half of 2016, but a D.C. Circuit ruling on the government’s land-into-trust process and U.S. Supreme Court decisions on tribal court authority, taxation and the use of tribal convictions in federal domestic violence prosecutions also made major marks this year.
More High Court Activity
[I]n June, the high court unanimously reversed a Ninth Circuit ruling that tossed a Native American man's federal domestic assault indictment because it was based on tribal court convictions in which he lacked counsel, saying the man’s constitutional rights weren’t violated. The ruling preserved a strong tool for combating escalating domestic violence in Indian Country and resolved a circuit split.
The ruling preserved a strong tool for combating escalating domestic violence in Indian Country and resolved a circuit split.However, the ruling skirted the underlying issue of whether tribe members, as U.S. citizens, should be prosecuted in tribal courts without the full protections of the U.S. Constitution, Greenberg Traurig LLP shareholder Troy A. Eid said following the ruling.
"I still don't understand how we can attempt to square citizenship between those who are not living on a reservation and those who are," Eid said. "That lack of consistency to me is very troubling."
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