Gorsuch joins with liberal justices in Supreme Court ruling for Indian tribe’s hunting rights

Gorsuch joins with liberal justices in Supreme Court ruling for Indian tribe’s hunting rights

U.S. Supreme Court

Neil Gorsuch
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch.


U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch joined with four liberal justices on Monday in a ruling for a member of the Crow Tribe who was arrested for offseason hunting.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Crow Tribe’s hunting rights, established in an 1868 treaty, did not expire when Wyoming became a state. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote the majority opinion.
This is the second time this term that Gorsuch has joined with liberals in a win for an Indian tribe, Bloomberg Law reports. In the first decision, issued March 19, Gorsuch joined a five-justice majority that found Washington state could not impose a fuel import tax on tribal-owned businesses, according to NPR and this Bloomberg Law story.
“On this conservative court, Gorsuch has been one of the most conservative voices,” NPR had reported in March. “But in cases involving Indian treaties and rights, he is most often counted among those sympathetic to Indian claims.”
The petitioner in the case decided Monday is Clayvin Herrera, a member of the Crow Tribe. He had invoked the 1868 treaty when he was arrested in 2014 for offseason hunting in the Bighorn National Forest in Wyoming. Herrera and other members of the tribe had crossed from the boundaries of the reservation into Bighorn while pursuing a group of elk.
In the 1868 treaty, the Crow Tribe ceded most of its territory in modern-day Montana and Wyoming to the United States for the right to hunt on unoccupied U.S. land.
The Supreme Court majority said the treaty survived Wyoming’s statehood. There is no evidence that Congress intended to revoke the 1868 treaty through the Wyoming Statehood Act, Sotomayor wrote. Nor is there evidence in the treaty itself that Congress intended the treaty right to expire at statehood.
The majority also found that the creation of the national forest didn’t categorically make it occupied land that was not subject to the treaty. On remand, Sotomayor said, Wyoming could still argue that the specific site on which Herrera was hunting elk was “occupied” within the meaning of the treaty.
Sotomayor also said the court was not addressing the viability of arguments that Wyoming could regulate the exercise of the treaty in the interest of conservation. On remand, the state could still make its conservation argument, Sotomayor said.
The dissent called the majority’s interpretation of the treaty “debatable” and questioned why the court ruled on the issue, given a 1995 decision that could still have binding effect. The majority “sidesteps” that issue and leaves it to lower courts to decide, according to the dissenting opinion by Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.
The case is Herrera v. Wyoming.
Hat tip to SCOTUSblog.

Be Sociable, Share!
FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Author: Edward Lott

Edward Lott, Ph.D., M.B.A. is President and Managing Partner of Allentown-based ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc., a local search and digital marketing agency that offers clients lead generation, local seo and Google Maps Domination.Ed has been a digital entrepreneur since 1994, having discovered very early the opportunities the Internet offered. After having spent over two decades helping attorneys grow their practice, Ed joined the staff of ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing as President and Managing Partner, where he is expanding the agency’s cutting-edge services to the legal market.A true marketing futurist, Ed's vast experience working directly with attorneys has given him a unique perspective on law firm marketing not found in many other digital marketing agencies. Ed has reshaped the offerings of ForLawFirmsOnly to focus on growing law firms through a holistic approach to digital marketing evident in the reformulated lead generation processes now in place.Want to learn more about ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, their lead generation programs, or just talk to Ed about his visions for helping law firms grow? Call him at 855-943-8736.

ForLawFirmsOnly Marketing, Inc. © 1994-2019 All Rights Reserved
Scroll Up