March 03, 2009
On Monday, November 3, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Carcieri v. Kempthorne. The Supreme Court here considers the Narragansett Tribe of Rhode Island’s rights under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act. The case arises from a dispute over a 31-acre parcel of land purchased by the Narragansett Tribe in 1991. The tribe began construction on the land without obtaining the relevant permits, and the Town of Charleston obtained an injunction to stop the tribe from building without them. In 1998, the Secretary of the Interior took the land into trust under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934, a decision which the state appealed unsuccessfully to the Interior Board of Indian Appeals and then challenged in United States District Court. The District Court affirmed the Secretary’s decision, as did the First Circuit on appeal. The Supreme Court now considers whether the 1934 Act applies to tribes that were not federally recognized in 1934 and whether the Rhode Island Indian Claims Settlement Act restricts the tribe’s ability to claim sovereignty over acquired land that was not part of the settlement. Bingham Consulting Group principal Tom Gede discusses the case.
Oral Argument - November 3, 2008: