The judge argued over the text (and ceviche) when ruling that the local Alaska company was an “Indian tribe”
June 27, 2021
Supreme Court Friday rule Under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, the Alaska Native Corporation constitutes an “Indian tribe” that makes them eligible for $500 million in federal coronavirus relief. Although the courts almost only focus on statutory texts, the decision may have a wider impact on Alaska Natives.
case, Yellen v. Chehalis Reserve Alliance Tribe, Centered on the CARES Act 2020, which sets aside US$8 billion in COVID-19 relief for “Indian tribes”. The Act incorporates the definition of “Indian tribes” in the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, which defines tribes as:
Any Indian tribe, tribe, ethnic, or other organized group or community, including any Alaska Native village or area or country company defined or established under the Alaska Native Claim Settlement Act, these companies are considered eligible for special programs and services Provided to Indians by the United States because they are Indians.
When implementing the CARES Act, the Treasury Department determined that this definition includes Alaska Native companies, which are special indigenous companies established by ANCSA in 1971. Some federally recognized tribes objected that these companies were not eligible for funding. A consistent DC circuit team is on the side of these tribes.
However, the Supreme Court disagreed with and overturned its conclusion by a 6 to 3 vote, that is, the Alaska Native Corporation, commonly known as the ANC, Have done Form a tribe under ISDA. Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote on behalf of the majority. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett joined all of Sotomayor’s opinions, and Justice Samuel Alito Most opinions were added.
Sotomayor believes that the ANC is a tribe under ISDA for two reasons. First, she concluded that “recognized” should be given its usual meaning, rather than being interpreted as an artistic term for formal government-to-government relations between the United States and federally recognized tribes (everyone admits that this does not include non- National University). To support this argument, she pointed out that some federal regulations, including Indian laws and regulations, use the term “recognized” in this broader sense. Sotomayor believes that under this “ordinary meaning” approach, the ANC can easily be recognized as “recognized.” After all, ANCSA itself is such a “service” that the federal government provides to Native Americans because of its Native American status.
However, even if the court does apply the interpretation of artistic terms to recognition, Sotomayor believes that the “series of qualifier specifications”-a statutory interpretation rule that applies to all items previously listed in the list-should not apply. Here, she gave an example of an equally clever sketch, one of the restaurants advertising is “Any meat, vegetable or seafood dishes, including cooked ceviche, can enjoy a 50% discount.” Sotomayor suggested that even if the dish is made with raw fish or shellfish, customers should correctly interpret this discount to include ceviche. “It’s like applying the’cooked food’ requirement to ceviche,” she continued, “it is not credible to apply the’federal approval’ requirement to the ANC in this context.” She pointed out that even in 1975, The federal government is also unlikely to think it will once The establishment of a government-to-government relationship with the ANC makes it meaningless to include them in the definition under the interpretation of the challenger.
Justice Neil Gossacki objected, as did Justice Clarence Thomas and Justice Elena Kagan. In his view, the term “recognition” is a formal artistic term because he pointed out that the regulations before and after ISDA are promulgated use almost the same language to describe recognition. In addition, he pointed out that in most people’s tests, it’s not even clear what the simple meaning of “recognition” is: “If ISDA really catches any group that is only’eligible’ for federal benefits,” he asked, ” Why not just say it and avoid introducing terms with specific and accepted meanings in Indian federal law?”
Gorsuch is equally skeptical about most people’s efforts to avoid the standards of the series qualifiers. In his view, the recognition of the application of ANCs is almost unbelievable, which shows that there is considerable uncertainty in the recognition of various Alaskan Native entities after ANCSA in Alaska history. He pointed out that Congress often includes illustrative examples in regulations, even if they seem superfluous. (In an interesting footnote, Gorsuch also quoted food writer Mark Bittman about the ambiguity about whether ceviche can actually be “cooked.”) But in the end, Gorsuch pointed out that he is with most people. The disagreement is “relatively moderate”: he observed that the entire court is adhering to textualism, even if it disagrees on the appropriate outcome.
In the textualist debate, the actual effect of this decision has been largely ignored. Most people specifically seek to limit these by making a narrow decision. Sotomayor said the ruling “will not open the door to other Indian groups that have not yet been recognized by the federal government as Indian tribes under ISDA.” In addition, even with regard to the ANC, Sotomayor emphasized the results. Did not make the ANC an “Indian tribe” other Regulations with different definitions. She said that the decision only “confirmed the position that the federal government has been insisting on for nearly half a century.”
However, given the large amount of conflicting evidence of previous practices collated by both parties, a more accurate version of the status quo seems ambiguous. Now, due to the court’s ruling, the ANC is a clear “Indian tribe” under ISDA. In view of the importance of the contract between the Federation and the tribe, especially in Alaska, this result may also have an important impact. The Alaska Federation recognizes the tribe, the ANC, and the federal government must figure it out.