Montana v. Crow Tribe of Indians Page 17

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Media for Montana v. Crow Tribe of Indians

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - February 24, 1998 in Montana v. Crow Tribe of Indians

Jeffrey A. Lamken:

It's not doing so here because Westmoreland was not the party--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

Well, if the United States didn't give the tribe permission to tax in '75, could a decision by a court saying, oh, United States, you should have authorized the tax, that the tribe meant to reach back 7 years and say, taxpayer, now cough up?

Jeffrey A. Lamken:

--Actually, the court... the district court didn't say you should have given permission.

It said that you in fact did.

You may not have intended to, but the moment you said the tax is approved as to the reservation, a fortiori it applied to the coal in the ceded strip, because that is part of the reservation, so when the Secretary wrote down the words, approved--

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

And where does it say that Westmoreland would have been bound to pay the tribe because all those years later a court said, gee, we got it wrong the first time, or the Secretary got it wrong?

Jeffrey A. Lamken:

--There is no district court holding on that point, Your Honor.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg:

What about the Tax Injunction Act, that the tribe is in an advantageous position with respect to that, it can do what others can't do?

It didn't.

Why at no point didn't the United States and the tribe think about enjoining Montana from collecting this unlawful tax?

Jeffrey A. Lamken:

It did, Your Honor.

The suit was filed in 1978.

The only reason they didn't get an injunction until 1982 was the claim was dismissed for failure to state a claim.

Until the Ninth Circuit reversed that dismissal there's no chance whatsoever of our... of obtaining an injunction against the tax.

William H. Rehnquist:

Thank you, Mr. Lamken.

The case is submitted.