International edition
August 23, 2019

The justices upheld a decision against the Native American nation

U.S. Supreme Court won’t review a Comanche Nation casino case

U.S. Supreme Court won’t review a Comanche Nation casino case
"The Chickasaw Nation is setting up another casino at Terral, Oklahoma, less than 45 miles down river from the Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino at Devol," the Comanche Nation said in its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
United States | 05/30/2019

The Comanche claimed the U.S. Interior Department secretary had wrongfully taken land into trust for the Chickasaw Nation to build the casino in southern Oklahoma.

T

he country’s highest court rejected on Tuesday to review a case in which the Comanche Nation intended to block the Chickasaw Nation from building a casino in Terral, an agricultural town in Jefferson County, Oklahoma.

As reported by the Oklahoman, the justices upheld a ruling by U.S. District Judge Joe Heaton and the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals against the Comanche.

"The Comanche had no choice but to bring this challenge," the Comanche Nation said in its petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The Chickasaw Nation already has two dozen casinos bringing in more than a billion dollars a year. It is setting up yet another casino at Terral, Oklahoma, less than 45 miles down river from the Comanche Red River Hotel and Casino at Devol."

Much of the Comanche complaint, filed against the Interior secretary, focused on the federal Indian gaming regulation that allows the secretary to take land into trust for Oklahoma tribes for casinos if the land had been part of the tribe’s original reservation. The regulation is referred to as the "Oklahoma exception."

The Comanche Nation argued in its appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court that the Interior Department’s "longstanding misapplication" of the Oklahoma exception "has meant that 2/3 of the State is gaming eligible upon acquisition in trust for an Indian Tribe. Six tribes have thereby managed to open approximately 80 casinos in the State, post the enactment date cutoff 10/17/1988 for gaming acquisitions, and now dominate the Indian gaming market."

The Interior Department chose not to respond to the Comanche’s petition to the high court.

Heaton and the appeals court agreed that the Comanche Nation’s complaint was filed after the expiration of the six-year statute of limitations for challenging a regulation.

In addition, Heaton wrote in his ruling, "There is no dispute here that the Terral property is within the boundaries of the historical reservation of the Chickasaw tribe. So assuming it is a ‘former’ reservation, the Oklahoma exception plainly applies."

Heaton also dismissed the Comanche Nation’s complaints that the Chickasaw Nation’s plans for the casino didn’t comply with environmental regulations.

The Chickasaw Nation opened the RiverStar Casino, two miles from the Texas border, in March 2018.

Still pending at the U.S. Supreme Court is a decision in the Oklahoma case of whether the reservation of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was ever officially dissolved. A decision, in that case, is expected before the end of June.

The case specifically involves whether a convicted murder was properly tried in state court. But the impact could be much broader, involving whether the state or tribe has authority over a large swath of eastern Oklahoma.

Leave your comment