Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Citizen Band, Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma

PETITIONER: Oklahoma Tax Commission
RESPONDENT: Citizen Band, Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma
LOCATION: District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Jacksonville Division

DOCKET NO.: 89-1322
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1990-1991)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

CITATION: 498 US 505 (1991)
ARGUED: Jan 07, 1991
DECIDED: Feb 26, 1991

ADVOCATES:
David Allen Miley - on behalf of the Petitioner
Edwin S. Kneedler - on behalf of the United States as amicus curiae
Michael Minnis - on behalf of the Respondent

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Citizen Band, Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - January 07, 1991 in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Citizen Band, Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - February 26, 1991 in Oklahoma Tax Commission v. Citizen Band, Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinions of the Court to announce in two cases.

The first of them is 89-1322, Oklahoma Tax Commission versus the Citizen Band of Potawatomi Indian Tribe of Oklahoma.

The case comes to us from the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

It arose out of a dispute between the State and the Tribe over the latter's obligation to collect taxes on cigarettes sold on the reservation.

The Court of Appeals held that the Tribe was immune from suit under this Court's doctrine of sovereign immunity.

Therefore, it ruled that Oklahoma's counterclaims were properly dismissed, and that Oklahoma could not require the Tribe to collect and remit taxes on cigarette sales that occur on the reservation.

In a decision filed today with the Clerk, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

We find that the Tribe did not wave its sovereign immunity from suit merely by seeking an injunction against the proposed assessment.

We affirm that part of the Court of Appeals' decision.

However, as we have stated in several prior cases, sovereign immunity does not deprive a state of the authority to tax cigarette sales to non-members of a tribe at a tribal store.

In two prior decisions, we have held that the tribe has an obligation to assist in the collection of validly imposed state taxes on such sales.

We, therefore, reverse that portion of the Court of Appeals' opinion that enjoins Oklahoma from collecting taxes on sales to non-members of the Tribe.

Justice Stevens has filed a concurring opinion.