Carcieri v. Salazar Case Brief

Facts of the Case

“The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA), enacted in 1934, authorized the Secretary of the Interior, respondent in the present case, to acquire land and hold it in trust “for the purpose of providing land for Indians.” The aforementioned statute defined “Indian” to “include all persons of Indian descent who are members of any recognized Indian tribe now under Federal jurisdiction,” § 479.The Narragansett Tribe was placed under the Colony of Rhode Island’s formal guardianship in 1709. It agreed to relinquish its tribal authority and sell all but two acres of its remaining reservation land in 1880, but then began trying to regain its land and tribal status. n a 1978 agreement settling a dispute between the Tribe and Rhode Island, the Tribe received title to 1,800 acres of land in petitioner Charlestown in exchange for relinquishing claims to state land based on aboriginal title. The Tribe gained formal recognition from the Federal Government in 1983, and the Secretary of the Interior accepted a deed of trust to the 1,800 acres in 1988.”


Can a district court rule on a petition to return a child to his or her country of residence according The Hague Convention’s articles once the child has returned to that country?


“No. The Supreme Court reversed the First Circuit holding that the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 did not apply to tribes not recognized at the time of the statute’s creation. Therefore, the Indian Reorganization Act did not authorize the Secretary of the Interior to act on behalf of the Narrangansett Tribe as trustee. With Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the majority and joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Justice Antonin G. Scalia, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, Justice Stephen G. Breyer, and Justice Samuel A. Alito, the Court reasoned that the statute unambiguously referred only to those tribes that were under federal jurisdiction in 1934, and therefore did not apply to the Narrangansett Tribe.Justice Breyer wrote a separate concurring opinion qualifying his assent to the majority opinion. In part, he argued that the statute was not “unambiguous”, but through contextual analysis, the statute referred only to those tribes under federal jurisdiction in 1934. Justice David H. Souter, joined by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, also wrote separately, concurring in part and dissenting in part. He departed from the majority opinion by arguing that the case should have been remanded for the Narrangansett Tribe to pursue an alternative legal theory. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented arguing that the Narrangansett Tribe was an Indian Tribe under the meaning of the statute, though not specified by name, and therefore the Secretary of the Interior should be allowed to act on its behalf.”

Case Information

Citation: 555 US (2009)
Granted: Feb 25, 2008
Argued: Nov 3, 2008
Decided: Feb 24, 2009
Case Brief: 2009