June 02, 2014
On May 27, 2014, the Supreme Court issued its decision in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community. The question in this case is twofold. First, whether a federal court may exercise jurisdiction to prohibit an activity that violates the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), but does not occur on Indian lands; and second, whether tribal sovereign immunity precludes a state from suing a tribe in federal court for violations of IGRA that take place outside of Indian lands.
By a vote of 5-4, the Court held in an opinion delivered by Justice Kagan that Michigan's suit against Bay Mills is barred by tribal sovereign immunity. Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Kennedy, Breyer, and Sotomayor joined the opinion of the Court. Justice Sotomayor authored a concurring opinion. Justice Scalia wrote a dissenting opinion. Justice Thomas also wrote a dissenting opinion, joined by Justices Scalia, Ginsburg, and Alito. Justice Ginsburg wrote a separate dissenting opinion. The opinion of the Sixth Circuit was affirmed and the case was remanded.
To discuss the case, we have Tom Gede, who is a principal in Bingham Consulting and of counsel at Bingham McCutchen.