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Michigan v. Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians

United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit

December 18, 2013

State of MICHIGAN, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
The SAULT STE. MARIE TRIBE OF CHIPPEWA INDIANS, Defendant-Appellant.

Argued: Oct. 2, 2013.

Rehearing and Rehearing En Banc Denied Feb. 13, 2014.

Page 1076

ARGUED:

Edward C. DuMont, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

Louis B. Reinwasser, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Edward C. DuMont, Seth P. Waxman, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Washington, D.C., for Appellant.

Louis B. Reinwasser, Kelly M. Drake, Office of the Michigan Attorney General, Lansing, Michigan, for Appellee.

John F. Petoskey, Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP, Peshawbestown, Michigan, William A. Szotkowski, Jessica Intermill, Andrew Adams III, Hogen & Halloran, P.C., St. Paul, Minnesota, for Amici Curiae.

Before: ROGERS, STRANCH, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

ROGERS, Circuit Judge.

The State of Michigan sued to enjoin the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians from applying to have land taken into trust by the Secretary of the Interior pursuant to the Michigan Indian Land Claims Settlement Act (MILCSA). The Tribe bought land from the City of Lansing, Michigan for the purpose of building a class III gaming facility. To purchase the property, the Tribe used funds appropriated by Congress for the benefit of certain Michigan tribes; MILCSA provides that land acquired with the income on these funds shall be held in trust by the United States. The district court enjoined the Tribe from making a trust submission under MILCSA on the theory that the submission would violate a compact between the State of Michigan and the Tribe. The compact requires that a tribe seeking to have land taken into trust for gaming purposes under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) secure a revenue-sharing agreement with other tribes. Because the State is not suing to enjoin a class III gaming activity, but instead a trust submission under MILCSA, § 2710(d)(7)(A)(ii) of IGRA does not abrogate the Tribe's sovereign immunity, and the district court lacked jurisdiction. The issue of whether class III gaming on the casino property will violate IGRA if the Tribe's MILCSA trust submission is successful is not ripe for adjudication because it depends on contingent future events that may never occur. The injunction was therefore not properly entered.

I.

IGRA provides a framework for government regulation of gaming activities on Indian lands, which include " any lands title to which is ... held in trust by the United

Page 1077

States for the benefit of any Indian tribe." 25 U.S.C. § 2703(4)(B). IGRA generally prohibits gaming on land taken into trust after October 17, 1988, unless it falls under one of four exceptions provided for in § 20(a). See 25 U.S.C. § 2719(a). Two of these exceptions are relevant to this case: one for lands taken into trust as part of " a settlement of a land claim," 25 U.S.C. § 2719(b)(1)(B)(i), and an exception that permits gaming by any tribe on any land if the Secretary determines, subject to the Governor's approval, that a gaming establishment would be in the best interest of the tribe and its members, and not detrimental to the surrounding community, 25 U.S.C. § 2719(b)(1)(A). In addition, IGRA divides gaming into three categories. Class I consists of traditional Indian games or social games for prizes of minimal value, and is regulated exclusively by tribal governments; class II includes activities like bingo, and is regulated by tribes and the National Indian Gaming Commission, but not ...


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