Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community

Summarized by:

  • Court: United States Supreme Court
  • Area(s) of Law: Tribal Law
  • Date Filed: May 27, 2014
  • Case #: 12-515
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Kagan, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which Roberts, C.J., and Kennedy, Breyer, and Sotomayor, JJ., joined. Sotomayor, J., filed a concurring opinion. Scalia, J., filed a dissenting opinion. Thomas, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which Scalia, Ginsburg, and Alito, JJ., joined. Ginsburg, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
  • Full Text Opinion

The Indian Gambling Regulatory Act does not abrogate tribal sovereign immunity when gaming activities are conducted off of Indian land.

Michigan sued respondent under §2710(d)(7)(A)(ii) of the Indian Gambling Regulatory Act (IGRA) to enjoin Respondent from operating a casino on land purchased by Respondent through a congressionally established land trust. The District Court granted the injunction, but the judgment was vacated by the Sixth Circuit.

The Court affirmed the Sixth Circuit’s decision by holding that the suit by the State is barred by Respondent’s tribal sovereign immunity, noting that §2710(d)(7)(A)(ii) only allows the State to enjoin “class III gaming activity located on Indian lands and conducted in violation of any Tribal-State compact.” The gaming activity took place off of Indian lands and it is for this reason that the gaming activity does not meet the requirements laid out by Congress in §2710(d)(7)(A)(ii).

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