Supreme Court Review 2016/2017 TERM
SUNDAY, JULY 23, 2017
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Issue:  Jurisdiction of Indian Tribal Courts Over Nonmembers

Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

13-1496

QUESTION(S) PRESENTED

In Montana v. United States, 450 U.S. 544, 565 (1981), this Court held that generally “the inherent sovereign powers of an Indian tribe do not extend to the activities of nonmembers of the tribe.” The Court recognized as an exception to that rule that a “tribe may regulate, through taxation, licensing, or other means, the activities of nonmembers who enter consensual relationships with the tribe or its members.” Id. (emphasis added).

The Court subsequently recognized in Nevada v. Hicks, 533 U.S. 353, 358 n.2 (2001), that it has “never held that a tribal court had jurisdiction over a nonmember defendant” in any context, so that it remains an “open question” whether tribal courts may ever exercise civil jurisdiction over nonmembers. In Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle Co., 554 U.S. 316 (2008), this Court granted certiorari to decide whether Montana’s undefined “other means” include adjudicating civil tort claims in tribal court. However, the Court resolved the case on other grounds.

In this case, a divided panel of the Fifth Circuit held that tribal courts do have that jurisdiction. Five judges dissented from the denial of rehearing en banc. The case accordingly presents the issue the Court left open in Hicks and the Question the Court granted certiorari to decide in Plains Commerce: Whether Indian tribal courts have jurisdiction to adjudicate civil tort claims against nonmembers, including as a means of regulating the conduct of nonmembers who enter into consensual relationships with a tribe or its members?

DECISION

Decided June 23, 2016 HOLDING

The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.

Per Curiam image Justice Sotomayor
Per Curiam Sotomayor
Per Curiam image Justice Breyer
Per Curiam Breyer
Per Curiam image Justice Thomas
Per Curiam Thomas
Recused image Justice Scalia
Recused Scalia
Per Curiam image Chief Justice Roberts
Per Curiam Roberts
Per Curiam image Justice Kennedy
Per Curiam Kennedy
Per Curiam image Justice Ginsburg
Per Curiam Ginsburg
Per Curiam image Justice Alito
Per Curiam Alito
Per Curiam image Justice Kagan
Per Curiam Kagan

PER CURIAM.

Text of Opinion
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ORAL ARGUMENT

Argued December 7, 2015

Appearences
On Behalf of Petitioner Dollar General Corporation, et al.
Thomas C. Goldstein, Esq.
On Behalf of Respondent MissisĀ­sippi Band of Choctaw Indians, et al.
Neal K. Katyal, Esq.
On Behalf of United States as amiĀ­cus curiae supporting Respondents
Edwin S. Kneedler, Deputy Solicitor General
Transcript
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Audio
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Merit Briefs
Brief for Petitioners Dollar General Corp and Dolgencorp, LLC (pdf download)
Brief for Respondents Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, et al (pdf download)
Reply Brief for Petitioners Dollar General Corp and Dolgencorp, LLC (pdf download)
Amicus Curiae Briefs
Amicus Brief for the Retail Litigation Center, Inc supporting Petitioners supporting Respondent (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the States of Oklahoma, Wyoming, Utah, Michigan, Arizona, and Alabama supporting Petitioners (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the South Dakota Bankers Association supporting Petitioners supporting Respondent (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the Association of American Railroads supporting Petitioners supporting Respondent (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the United States supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the States of Mississippi, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, and Washington supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians et al supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center and Additional Advocacy Organizations for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Assault supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for Historians and Legal Scholars Gregory Ablavsky, Bethany R Berger, Ned Blackhawk, Daniel Carpenter, Matthew LM Fletcher, Maggie McKinley, and Joseph William Singer supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for Historians and Legal Scholars Gregory Ablavsky et al supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the Cherokee Nation et al supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Mississippi supporting Respondents (pdf download)
Amicus Brief for the Retail Litigation Center, Inc supporting Petitioners supporting Respondent (pdf download)

PROCEEDING BELOW

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Decided March 14, 2014