The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act allows a federally-recognized Indian tribe to conduct gaming on lands held in trust by the Secretary of the Interior for the tribe’s benefit, 25 U.S.C. 2710(b)(1), 2703(4)(B) if the lands had been taken into trust as of the Act’s effective date of October 17, 1988. The Act permits gaming on lands that are taken into trust after that date “as part of . . . the restoration of lands for an Indian tribe that is restored to Federal recognition” to ensure “that tribes lacking reservations when [the Act] was enacted are not disadvantaged relative to more established ones.” In 1992, the Mechoopda Tribe regained its federal recognition; 12 years later, the Tribe asked the Secretary to take into trust a 645-acre Chico, California parcel, so that the Tribe could operate a casino, arguing that the parcel qualified as “restored lands.” The Secretary agreed. Butte County, where the parcel is located, sued. The district court and D.C. Circuit upheld the Secretary’s decision, rejecting an argument that the Secretary erred by reopening the administrative record on remand. The court noted the Secretary’s findings concerning the Tribe’s historical connection to the land and whether current Tribe members were descendants of the historical Tribe and concluded that the Secretary’s substantive decision survives arbitrary-and-capricious review. View "Butte County, California v. Chaudhuri" on Justia Law
The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians ("Buena Vista") entered into a compact with California to engage in gaming on its tribal land and then petitioned the Secretary of the Interior ("Secretary") for approval of the compact. Amador County, in which Buena Vista's land was located, challenged the Secretary's "no-action" approval claiming that the land at issue failed to qualify as "Indian land." At issue was whether Amador County lacked constitutional standing to maintain the suit and whether a compact, that was deemed approved where he failed to act within the 45 day limit, was reviewable. The court held that Amador County had standing where its allegations were more than sufficient to establish concrete and particularized harm and where Amador County could easily satisfy the requirements of causation and redressability. The court also held that where, as here, a plaintiff alleged that a compact violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. 2710(d)(8)(C), and required the Secretary to disapprove the compact, nothing in the Administrative Procedures Act, 5 U.S.C. 701(a)(2), precluded judicial review of a subsection (d)(8)(C) no-action approval. Accordingly, the court remanded to give the district court the opportunity to assess the merits of the suit.
Posted in: Constitutional Law, Gaming Law, Government & Administrative Law, Native American Law, U.S. D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, Zoning, Planning & Land Use