Argued: January 28, 2016
Plaintiffs-Appellants, the Cayuga Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe, and individual officers, employees, and representatives of the Cayuga Nation, filed this action in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (David N. Hurd, Judge) against the Village of Union Springs, the Board of Trustees of the Village, and individual Village officials, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs contend that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2721, preempts the defendants' efforts to enforce a local anti-gambling ordinance against a gaming facility located on land owned by Cayuga Nation.
The district court dismissed the complaint, holding that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case because it could not determine, in light of an ongoing leadership dispute within Cayuga Nation, whether the lawsuit was authorized as a matter of tribal law. Following a motion for reconsideration, the district court additionally held that the individual plaintiffs lacked Article III standing to sue in their own right.
On appeal, the plaintiffs argue that the district court had jurisdiction because the Bureau of Indian Affairs had recognized Clint Halftown, who initiated this suit, as the Cayuga Nation's "federal representative, " thereby relieving the court of the need to resolve questions of tribal law, and because the individual plaintiffs had standing to challenge the anti-gaming ordinance. We agree and therefore VACATE the district court's order dismissing the complaint and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
David W. DeBruin (Joshua M. Segal and Matthew E. Price, on the brief), Jenner & Block LLP, Washington, D.C., for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
Cornelius D. Murray, O'Connell and Aronowitz, P.C., Albany, N.Y., for Defendants-Appellees.
Before: Calabresi, Lynch, and Lohier, Circuit Judges.
GERARD E. LYNCH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
Plaintiffs-appellants – the Cayuga Nation ("the Nation"), a federally recognized Indian tribe, and individual officers, employees, and representatives of the Nation – filed an action in 2014 in the United States District Court for the Northern District of New York (David N. Hurd, Judge) against the Village of Union Springs, the Board of Trustees of the Village, and individual Village officials (collectively "the Village"), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. Plaintiffs contend that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ("IGRA"), 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701-2721, preempts the application of a local anti-gambling ordinance to a Nation-owned gaming facility, Lakeside Entertainment ("Lakeside"), located on land owned by the tribe.
The Village moved to dismiss the complaint, arguing that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to determine whether the plaintiffs had authority under tribal law to sue on behalf of the Nation, and that the suit was barred by res judicata. The district court dismissed the complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and, following a motion for reconsideration, also concluded that the individual plaintiffs lacked standing as they had not sufficiently alleged an injury-in-fact. On appeal, the Nation argues that this decision was in error because the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") had previously recognized Clint Halftown, who initiated this suit, as the Nation's federal representative, and federal courts may defer to that determination without resolving questions of tribal law. The Nation further argues that the individual plaintiffs adequately alleged a credible threat of prosecution and need not make any further showing of imminent injury to bring a preenforcement challenge to a criminal statute.
We conclude that the district court had subject matter jurisdiction, as it was not required to resolve questions of tribal law to hear the lawsuit, and that the individual plaintiffs have standing to sue. We therefore VACATE the district court's order dismissing the complaint and REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
In 2003, the Nation adopted a Class II gaming ordinance pursuant to IGRA, which was then approved by the National Indian Gaming Commission ("NIGC"), and formed a Class II Gaming Commission ("the Commission"). Thereafter, the Nation opened Lakeside on land it claimed was within the limits of its reservation. The Village objected on the ground that the construction of Lakeside violated local land use and zoning laws. The Nation sued, seeking a declaratory judgment stating that the property on which Lakeside is located is within Indian Country within the meaning of 18 U.S.C. § 1151(a), that the Nation has jurisdiction over that property, and that the Village's zoning and land use laws are preempted as applied to Lakeside. That lawsuit was dismissed following the Supreme Court's decision in City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y., 544 U.S. 197 (2005), leading to the closure of Lakeside in 2005.
In 2013, members of the Nation, led by Clint Halftown, decided to reopen Lakeside. Halftown reconstituted the Commission with himself as chairman, and two of his supporters – Tim Twoguns and Gary Wheeler – as members. ...