Idaho v. United States

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Idaho v. United States
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued April 23, 2001
Decided June 18, 2001
Full case name Idaho v. United States
Citations 533 U.S. 262 (more)
121 S. Ct. 2135, 150 L. Ed. 2d 326, 2001 U.S. LEXIS 4665
Prior history

United States v. Idaho (In re Coeur d'Alene Lake) 95 F. Supp. 2d 1094, 1998 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22906;

United States v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe 210 F.3d 1067, 2000 U.S. App. LEXIS 8583
Holding
The United States, not the state of Idaho, held title to lands submerged under Lake Coeur d'Alene, and that the land was held in trust for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Souter, joined by Stevens, O'Connor, Ginsburg, Breyer
Dissent Rehnquist, joined by Scalia, Kennedy, Thomas

Idaho v. United States, 533 U.S. 262 (2001), was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the United States, not the state of Idaho, held title to lands submerged under Lake Coeur d'Alene, and that the land was held in trust for the Coeur d'Alene Tribe.[1]

Background[edit]

History[edit]

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is an Indian tribe in northern Idaho. The Coeur d'Alene people once inhabited 3,500,000 acres (1,400,000 ha) in northern Idaho, Washington,[2][3] and Montana,[4] but today, the only land controlled by the tribal nation is the Coeur d'Alene Reservation in Benewah and Kootenai counties, Idaho.[5]

In 1853, the territorial governor of Washington (which at the time included the panhandle of Idaho), Isaac Stevens, began to negotiate treaties with local tribes.[6][7] By 1855, Stevens had treaties with most of the tribes in the area, but not including the Coeur d'Alene tribe. At the same time, gold had been discovered near Fort Colville and on the Yakima reservation.[8][9] By September 1853, Yakima Indians killed six prospectors in retaliation for attacks on the tribes by trespassing minors.[10] Stevens negotiated a fragile peace in 1856,[fn 1] but the U.S. Army was unable to keep prospectors out of Indian lands, and by 1858 hostilities sparked again.[12]

In May 1858, Colonel Steptoe led a group of about 130 dragoons north towards the Coeur d'Alene lands. On May 16, 1858, he was met by a force of about 600 Indians,[fn 2] who, after blocking Steptoe's path forward, began to fight the next day.[14] Steptoe withdrew after losses of men and upon running low in ammunition.[15][16]

In 1867, President Andrew Johnson established a reservation for the tribe at the request of the territorial governor,[17][18] but the tribe never accepted the reservation due to the main waterways not being included.[19] This was due, in a major part, to the fact that the tribe depended on the rivers and the lake for food and other needs.[20] In 1873, the Commissioner of Indian Affairs sent a commission to induce the Coeur d'Alenes to accept a reservation. Following negotiations, a reservation of approximately 598,000 acres (242,000 ha) was established.[21][22] The reservation boundaries included the Hangman Valley, the Coeur d'Alene River, the St. Joe River, and all but a small portion of Lake Coeur d'Alene.[23][24]

The agreement was implemented with an executive order, which was intended to be temporary until Congress approved it. Congress never approved the action, and in 1883 the United States conducted a survey of the reservation. Congress then, in 1886, authorized the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate the tribe ceding all of their land outside the reservation. In 1887 the tribe and the federal government came to an agreement under those terms.[25] In 1889, the tribe ceded the northern third of the reservation back to the federal government, including part of Lake Coeur d'Alene.[26] The agreement stated that it was not binding until ratified by Congress.[27][28]

Prior to ratification of both agreements, Idaho became a state. Congress passed the Idaho Statehood Act that ratified the state constitution which contained a section disclaiming the state's rights to unappropriated public lands and lands owned by tribes. In 1891, Congress ratified the earlier agreements with the tribe. In 1894, the tribe ceded a one-mile wide strip (the "Harrison cession") for use by the Washington and Idaho Railway to extend its tracks.[29][30] In 1908 Congress gave Idaho an area now known as Heyburn State Park.[31][32]

This area of Idaho was known for mining and has long held the nickname of "Silver Valley."[33] From 1880-1980 the Coeur d'Alene basin was one of the most productive silver, lead, and zinc mining regions in the country.[34] The waste, estimated at 72 million tons,[35][36] from the mining contaminated downstream waters, including the Coeur d'Alene River and Lake Coeur d'Alene. As of 2012, the Silver Valley was the second largest Superfund cleanup site in the nation.

Prior court action[edit]

In 1991, after failing to reach an agreement with Idaho on a greater role in the management of the lake, the tribe notified the state of its intent to sue for title.[37][38][39] The case was brought in the U.S. District Court which initially held that a suit by the tribe against the state was barred by the Eleventh Amendment.[40] The tribe then appealed the decision to the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part[41] and the state appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In the Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy delivered the majority opinion which held that the Eleventh Amendment barred direct lawsuits by tribes against a state.[42][43] The decision was 5-4, with Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices O'Connor, Scalia, and Thomas joining Kennedy. Justice David Souter dissented, joined by Justices Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer.[44]

The tribe then requested that the United States sue to quiet title to the submerged land on the reservation.[45] The tribe moved to intervene on the side of the United States and the court granted the request. The court found that the earlier agreements had reserved the submerged land for the use of the tribe, and ruled for the United States.[46][47]

The state then appealed the ruling to the Ninth Circuit Court. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision of the trial court, pointing out additional information that supported the lower court's ruling that was not in the District Court's memorandum opinion.[48]

The state again appealed and the Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Supreme Court[edit]

photograph of Justice David Souter
Justice David Souter, author of the majority opinion

Arguments[edit]

Steven W. Strack argued the cause for the state of Idaho. David C. Frederick argued the cause for the United States, and Raymond C. Givens argued the cause for the Couer d'Alene tribe.

Opinion of the court[edit]

Justice Souter delivered the opinion of the court. This decision was the opposite of the earlier decision in Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, with Justice O'Connor now voting with the dissenters in that case. Basically repeating his earlier dissent, Souter noted that the presumption was that the state had ownership of all submerged lands, unless it was clear that the United States had reserved those lands for itself.[49] Souter observed that the 1873 executive order implicitly included the submerged lands and also noted that the 1888 report to Congress indicated that all of the submerged lands were retained in trust for the tribe, and that Congress knew this when they passed the Idaho statehood act.[50] He also noted the trial court's finding that the federal government had consistently treated with the tribe over the submerged lands, including compensating the tribe for the railroad right of way. In this case it was clear that the United States had retained the rights of title to the submerged land, overcoming the presumption of state ownership. The decision of the Court of Appeals was affirmed, that the United States held title to the land.[51][52]

photograph of Chief Justice William Rehnquist
Chief Justice William Rehnquist, author of the dissent

Dissent[edit]

Chief Justice Rehnquist dissented from the majority opinion. He stated that once the Idaho statehood act was passed, the title to the submerged lands transferred to the state. Any subsequent look at actions of the Congress, even in ratifying agreements that antedated statehood were of no consequence, and should not have been considered by the majority. The only action that would have retained tribal and federal ownership of the submerged lands would have been an action prior to Idaho becoming a state. He would have reversed and remanded the case.[53][54]

Subsequent developments[edit]

A year after the decision, the tribe applied to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for authority to enforce water standards under the Clean Water Act.[55] Negotiations with the state, the tribe and the EPA began but broke down when both the state and the EPA could not match the $5,000,000 budget provided by the tribe.[56] In 2005, the EPA granted this authority, allowing the tribe to regulate non-members as necessary for the health and welfare of the tribe. The three parties came together again, and after arbitration, agreed on a management plan in 2009.[57]

In addition, the tribe has been in the forefront in filing cleanup lawsuits against mining companies, while state and federal politicians have moved to limit the damages that could be collected.[58]

References[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Stevens also declared martial law and imprisoned farmers (and a judge, Judge Edward M. Lander) for suspected sympathies with the Indians. Lander was arrested after he issued a writ of habeas corpus for the release of the farmers. Territorial Supreme Court Justice Francis A. Chenoweth issued writs for the release of both the farmers and Lander, and ordered the Pierce County Sheriff to form a posse to enforce the orders. Stevens backed down. Stevens eventually was fined $50 for contempt of court and was censured by both the territorial legislature and the U.S. Senate.[11]
  2. ^ Palouses, Coeur d'Alenes, Spokanes, and a few Nez Perces, who refused to allow Steptoe to cross the river.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Idaho v. United States, 533 U.S. 262 (2001).
  2. ^ Emmi Blades, Using the Legal System to Gain Control of Natural Resources on Tribal Lands: Lessons from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Coeur D'alene Tribe, 47 Idaho L. Rev. 175, 180 (2010).
  3. ^ John E. Thorson, Sarah Britton, & Bonnie G. Colby, Tribal Water Rights: Essays in Contemporary Law, Policy, and Economics 27 (2006).
  4. ^ Robert H. Ruby, John A. Brown, & Cary C Collins, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest 43 (2013).
  5. ^ United States v. Idaho (In re Coeur d'Alene Lake), 95 F. Supp. 2d 1094 (D. Idaho 1998).
  6. ^ William C. Sturtevant, 10 Handbook of North American Indians 152 (1983).
  7. ^ Christina Roberts, Idaho, in Native America 284 (Daniel Scott Murphree ed. 2012).
  8. ^ Hubert Howe Bancroft & Frances Fuller Victor, History of Washington, Idaho, and Montana: 1845-1889 108-09 (1890).
  9. ^ Michael F. Dove, Yakima-Rouge War, in The Encyclopedia of North American Indian Wars, 1607–1890: A Political, Social, and Military History: A Political, Social, and Military History 867 (Spencer C. Tucker ed. 2011).
  10. ^ Dove, at 867.
  11. ^ David Wilma, Governor Isaac Stevens ejects Judge Edward Lander from his court under martial law on May 12, 1856, HistoryLink.org (Jan. 27, 2003).
  12. ^ Dove, at 868.
  13. ^ Bancroft, at 178-83.
  14. ^ Bancroft, at 178-83.
  15. ^ Bancroft, at 178-83.
  16. ^ Ruby, at 44.
  17. ^ John Fahey, Saving the Reservation: Joe Garry and the Battle to Be Indian 77 (2012).
  18. ^ Angelique Eaglewoman, Tribal Hunting And Fishing Lifeways & Tribal-State Relations In Idaho 46 Idaho L. Rev. 81, 84 (2009).
  19. ^ United States v. Idaho, 210 F.3d 1067, 1070 (9th Cir. 2000).
  20. ^ Blades, at 180.
  21. ^ Blades, at 180.
  22. ^ John Arthur Brown, A Guide to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest 33 (1992).
  23. ^ Idaho, 210 F.3d at 1070.
  24. ^ In re Coeur d'Alene Lake, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 1095.
  25. ^ Vine Deloria & Raymond J. DeMallie, 1 Documents of American Indian Diplomacy: Treaties, Agreements, and Conventions, 1775-1979 300 (1999).
  26. ^ Brown, 34.
  27. ^ Idaho, 210 F.3d at 1071.
  28. ^ In re Coeur d'Alene Lake, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 1096.
  29. ^ Idaho, 533 U.S. at 268.
  30. ^ Deloria, at 378.
  31. ^ Idaho, 210 F.3d at 1072.
  32. ^ In re Coeur d'Alene Lake, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 1097.
  33. ^ Blades, at 181.
  34. ^ Blades, at 182.
  35. ^ Roberts, at 291.
  36. ^ Thorson, at 27.
  37. ^ Blades, at 184.
  38. ^ Sarah Krakoff, Undoing Indian Law One Case at a Time: Judicial Minimalism and Tribal Sovereignty 50 Am. U.L. Rev. 1177, 1246 (2001).
  39. ^ Brown, 35.
  40. ^ Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho v. Idaho, 798 F. Supp. 1443 (D. Idaho 1992).
  41. ^ Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho v. Idaho, 42 F.3d 1244 (9th Cir. 1994).
  42. ^ Idaho v. Coeur d'Alene Tribe of Idaho, 521 U.S. 261 (1997).
  43. ^ Krakoff, at 1246.
  44. ^ Krakoff, at 1247.
  45. ^ Blades, at 184-185.
  46. ^ Idaho, 210 F.3d at 1072.
  47. ^ In re Coeur d'Alene Lake, 95 F. Supp. 2d at 1116.
  48. ^ Idaho, 210 F.3d at 1081.
  49. ^ Blades, at 183.
  50. ^ Blades, at 186.
  51. ^ Idaho, 533 U.S. at 281-288.
  52. ^ Thorson, at 28.
  53. ^ Idaho, 533 U.S. at 275-281.
  54. ^ Thorson, at 29.
  55. ^ Blades, at 189.
  56. ^ Thorson, at 29.
  57. ^ Blades, at 199.
  58. ^ Tim Palmer, The Heart of America: Our Landscape, Our Future 217 (1999).

External links[edit]