Legal Alert: Impact of the Carcieri Decision


On February 24, 2009, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling reversing the Department of Interior's prior interpretation of the Indian Reorganization Act ("IRA"), 25 U.S.C. § 465, and limiting the Secretary of Interior's ability to take land into trust on behalf of Tribes. Carcieri v. Salazar, 129 S.Ct. 1058 (2009). During the first wave of legal and tribal reaction to Carcieri, most analysis focused on how the limitation of the IRA land-into-trust mechanism would impact gaming and other economic development activities on newly-acquired Indian lands. However, during the recent hearing in front of the House Natural Resources Committee to consider the need for legislation to "fix" Carcieri, Indian law experts also discussed the broader impacts of the decision on tribal governance, criminal jurisdiction, and basic federal services. Although it is impossible to gauge how this decision will ultimately play out in Indian Country, these new discussions suggest that it will have wide-ranging impacts on both Tribes and non-Indian business partners.

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