The US Supreme Court is nearing the end of its term, and a number of important opinions are expected over the next few weeks.
They include an opinion on whether the Bay Mills Indian Community will be allowed to operate a casino in Vanderbilt.
The issue came before the court after Michigan objected to the tribe operating a casino off their reservation, without state permission.
The tribe, meanwhile, is claiming sovereign immunity from suit by state governments. The state argues that the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act passed by Congress in 1988 waives tribal sovereign immunity, and authorizes the suit.
Matthew Fletcher is a professor of Law at Michigan State University.
He said, “Observers have been commenting that the court has been waiting for a vehicle to dramatically restrict tribal sovereign immunity and this may be that vehicle, we just don’t know. But the longer the case seems to be percolating the more likely the court is going to do something big.”
Fletcher said a decision is expected any day. “I’m guessing it could be any time. And the supreme court announces a few days in advance when it’s going to issue opinions and they usually do so once or twice a week Tuesdays and Wednesdays, something like that. We’ll just have to see, it could literally be any day that the court issues an opinion”.
The opinion could radically change the way Native American tribes are, or are not, shielded from lawsuits.