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Supreme Court of the United States
October 9, 1979, Argued ; June 10, 1980, Decided 1
[*138] [***19] [**2073] MR. JUSTICE WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.
In recent Terms we have more than once addressed the intricate problem of state taxation of matters involving Indian tribes and their members. Moe v. Salish & Kootenai Tribes, 425 U.S. 463 (1976); McClanahan v. Arizona State Tax Comm'n, 411 U.S. 164 (1973); [***20] Mescalero Apache Tribe v. Jones, 411 U.S. 145 (1973). We return to that vexing area in the present cases. Although a variety of questions [****11] are presented, perhaps the most significant is whether an Indian tribe ousts a State from any power to tax on-reservation purchases by nonmembers of the tribe by imposing its own tax on the transaction or by otherwise earning revenues from the tribal business. A three-judge District Court held for the Tribes. We affirm in part and reverse in part.
These cases are here on the State of Washington's appeal from declaratory judgments [**2074] and permanent injunctions entered by the District Court at the close of consolidated proceedings in two separate cases that raised related issues. 446 F.Supp. 1339 (ED Wash. 1978). The first case, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Indian Reservation v. State of Washington, Civ. No. 3868, was filed on May 17, 1973, by the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation (Colville), Makah, and Lummi Tribes. The second, United States of America and Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation v. State of Washington, Civ. No. 3909, was commenced on July 18, 1973, by the United States on behalf of the Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation (Yakima Tribe). 3 In each [****12] action, the complainants contended that the State's cigarette and tobacco products taxes 4 [****13] could not lawfully be applied to sales by on-reservation tobacco outlets. They sought declaratory judgments to that effect, as well as injunctions barring the State from taking any measures to enforce the challenged taxes. In particular, the plaintiffs sought to enjoin the State from seizing as contraband untaxed cigarettes destined for delivery to their reservations. 5 In the Colville case, the Tribes also challenged [*140] the State's assumption of civil and criminal jurisdiction over their reservations and, by amended pleadings, attacked the application of the State's vehicle excise taxes to Indian-owned vehicles. The Yakima case did not present these latter issues, but it did make a broad attack on the application of the State's general retail sales tax to on-reservation transactions.
From the time of filing, the two cases pursued closely parallel courses. On November 5, 1973, a temporary restraining order against the State's enforcement of the taxing statutes was issued in each. App. 13, 147. Thereafter, because the complaints sought injunctive relief against the enforcement of state statutes, a three-judge District Court [***21] was convened pursuant to the then applicable requirement of 28 U. S. C. § 2281 (1970 ed.). 6 [****14] On September 6, 1974, the three-judge court issued preliminary injunctions restraining the State from enforcing the challenged taxes against the Tribes. App. 15, 156. There followed extensive discovery, 7 after which the parties to each case reached agreement on pretrial orders setting forth facts and clarifying the issues.
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447 U.S. 134 *; 100 S. Ct. 2069 **; 65 L. Ed. 2d 10 ***; 1980 U.S. LEXIS 16 ****; 29 Fed. R. Serv. 2d (Callaghan) 743
WASHINGTON ET AL. v. CONFEDERATED TRIBES OF THE COLVILLE INDIAN RESERVATION ET AL.
Subsequent History: [****1] Petition for Rehearing Denied August 11, 1980.
Prior History: APPEAL FROM THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON.
Disposition: 446 F.Supp. 1339, affirmed in part and reversed in part.
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