On June 23, 2016, the US Supreme Court issued a ruling on the issue of whether tribal courts have jurisdiction over non-tribal members in civil tort claims.
The decision was split 4-4, finding in favour of the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, in the decision Dollar General v Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians. In essence this deadlock upholds the decision of the lower court, which found in favour of tribal jurisdiction.
As one opinion analysis notes, the case centered on the issue of “exactly constitutes enough consent” from non-members for tribal jurisdiction to apply.
This decision is yet another part of the complex and at times unclear federal law on American Indians. One commentator notes that:
Useful commentary on the decision can also be found here.
Will this decision provide clarity on the contentious issue of tribal jurisdiction, or is this to be regarded as an instance of the Court side-stepping a difficult question?