SCOTUS Remands Madison County v. Oneida Case

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court remanded the Madison County v. Oneida Indian Nation of New York case to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, in a per curiam decision.

We granted certiorari, 562 U. S.___(2010), on the questions “whether tribal sovereign immunity from suit, to the extent it should continue to be recognized, bars taxing authorities from foreclosing to collect lawfully imposed property taxes” and “whether the ancient Oneida reservation in New York was disestablished or diminished.” Pet. for Cert. i. Counsel for respondent Oneida Indian Nation advised the Court through a letter on November 30, 2010,that the Nation had, on November 29, 2010, passed a tribal declaration and ordinance waiving “its sovereign immunity to enforcement of real property taxation through foreclosure by state, county and local governments within and throughout the United States.” Oneida Indian Nation, Ordinance No. O-10–1 (2010). Petitioners Madison and Oneida Counties responded in a December 1,2010 letter, questioning the validity, scope, and permanence of that waiver; the Nation addressed those concerns in a December 2, 2010 letter.

We vacate the judgment and remand the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. That court should address, in the first instance, whether to revisit its ruling on sovereign immunity in light of this new factual development, and—if necessary—proceed to address other questions in the case consistent with its sovereign immunity ruling. See Kiyemba v. Obama, 559

Indian Country should breath a sigh of relief, at least for the time being.

Gabriel "Gabe" Galanda is a partner at Galanda Broadman PLLC, of Seattle, an American Indian majority-owned law firm.  He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California.  He can be reached at 206.691.3631 or, or via