Supreme Court Deadlock Upholds Tribal Civil Jurisdiction in Dollar General >>

June 27th, 2016

Supreme Court Deadlock Upholds Tribal Civil Jurisdiction in Dollar General

On Thursday, June 23rd, an equally divided U.S. Supreme Court, in Dollar General v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, affirmed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that tribal courts have jurisdiction to try civil tort claims brought against non-Indians for actions occurring on Indian lands.

The deadlock permits the family of a Native child who alleged abuse at a Dollar General store on the reservation to seek justice in the Mississippi Band of Choctaw tribal court system. The Dollar General Corporation, reporting $19 billion in revenue in 2014, faces a $2.5 million claim for civil damages.

The 4-4 ruling does not set national tribal precedent. Instead, the ruling is limited to the Fifth Circuit, which includes tribes located in the states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. As a result of the limited precedent, this issue is not resolved and will likely be reviewed by the Court again the near future.

The deadlocked decision only serves to further highlight the importance of the upcoming election for President, as the next President of the United States will likely appoint the next 2 to 3 U.S. Supreme Court justices.

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