Supreme Court refuses to hear case of states "extorting" tribal gaming revenues

The United States Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear California’s appeal of a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals case that had cut back on stated negotiating clout with tribes.

When the Court denies a certiorari petition to hear an appeal, we cannot assume that action has any meaning as to the Court’s opinion of the underlying merits.

But, the real world effect of a denial of cert is that the lower court decision remains in effect.

Thus, the Ninth Circuit case Rincon Band of Luiseno Mission Indians v. Schwarzenegger, 602 F.3d 1019 (9th Cir. 2010) remains the law. That federal court refused to allow California to force tribes to pay 10-15% of their net profits to the state because the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act does not allow states to tax Indian gaming.

The Ninth Circuit stated: “We are mindful that many states, and especially California, are currently writhing in (a) financial maw” – “However, we are also keenly aware of our nation’s too-frequent breach of its trust obligations to Native Americans when some of its politically and economically powerful citizens and states have lusted after what little the Native Americans have possessed.”

On May 24, the Obama administration had formally urged the court not to address the Ninth Circuit’s decision. The U.S. Solicitor General’s office weighed in at the request of the Court who wanted to know what the administration thought.

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