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Patchak v. Zinke - 138 S. Ct. 897 (2018)


Federal law allows Indian tribes to operate casinos on Indian lands, 25 U.S.C.S. § 2710, which includes lands held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe, 25 U.S.C.S. § 2703(4)(B).


Petitioner David Patchak filed suit challenging the authority of respondent Ryan Zinke, the Secretary of the Interior, to invoke the Indian Reorganization Act and take into trust a property (Bradley Property) on which respondent Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians wished to build a casino. In Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, 567 U. S. 209, 132 S. Ct. 2199, 183 L. Ed. 2d 211 (Patchak I), the Supreme Court held that the Secretary lacked sovereign immunity and that Patchak had standing, and it remanded the case for further proceedings. However, while the suit was back in the District Court, Congress enacted the Gun Lake Act, which reaffirmed as trust land the Bradley Property and provided that an action relating to that land shall not be filed or maintained in a federal court and shall be promptly dismissed. In response, the district court dismissed Patchak's suit, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed.


Was the suit filed by David Patchak properly dismissed?




The Court upheld the decision of the district court and held that the suit filed by David Patchak had to be dismissed because Congress enacted § 2(b) of Gun Lake Act before the case was decided, and that statute stripped federal courts of subject matter jurisdiction over all lawsuits relating to the Bradley Property. According to the Court, the constitutionality of jurisdiction-stripping statutes like the Gun Lake Act was well established, and § 2(b) of the Act did not violate U.S. Const. art. III.

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