A case brought up by a group of casino opponents in California against a tribal casino was dismissed by the US Supreme Court twice, putting the end to a nearly decade-long public dispute.
Petition to Rehear Denied
The petition filed by the Jamul Action Committee (JAC) to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) seeking the court to reconsider its October ruling and rehear the case was dismissed.
It all started back in August 2014 when the JAC, several of its members, and the Jamul Community Church challenged the approval and construction of a Las Vegas-style casino by the Jamul Indian Village (JIV), arguing the project violated the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Equal Protection provisions of the US Constitution.
JAC’s request for injunctive relief until the federal agency complied with NEPA and prepared an Environmental Impact Statement for the casino project was denied and the $400 million Hollywood Jamul Casino in San Diego materialized and opened doors in 2016 without any comprehensive environmental review.
But the committee did not give up after its NEPA claim setback and litigated the other claims filing three appeals to the US District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which came up with a final ruling in September 2020 but did not decide on the merits of the claims and instead ruled that the case against the JIV should not be allowed due to tribal immunity.
JAC: JIV Not Entitled to Tribal Immunity
In an appeal before SCOTUS, the JAC argued that tribal immunity is limited only to historic tribes prior to the adoption of the Constitution in 1789 and the JIV does not fall into this category, hence is not entitled to tribal immunity protection.
Further, the JAC referred to the case of Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation in which SCOTUS ruled that the use of the term “recognized” when referring to Indian tribes is not a “term of art” that is equal to “federally recognized tribe.”
Built on the premises of the National Indian Gaming Commission’s (NIGC) lack of jurisdiction and JIV’s lack of tribal immunity, the JAC’s petition that was filed with SCOTUS in April 2021, was initially denied in October and on Monday, December 7, the Court announced it would not reconsider it, finally putting an end to the public dispute.
JIV’s Hollywood Jamul Casino was not the first casino project the JAC tried to stop by filing litigation: in 2013 the committee tried to hold the construction of a casino by Penn National by suing the NIGC and Department of the Interior but was unsuccessful.