RESPONDENT:Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation
DOCKET NO.: 77-388
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
CITATION: 439 US 463 (1979)
ARGUED: Oct 02, 1978
DECIDED: Jan 16, 1979
James B. Hovis – for appellees
Louis F. Claiborne – for United States, as amicus curiae, by special leave of Court
Slade Gorton – for appellants
Media for Washington v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – January 16, 1979 in Washington v. Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation
Warren E. Burger:
The judgment and opinion of the Court in 388, Washington State against Confederated Bands and Tribes of the Yakima Indian Nation will be announced by Mr. Justice Stewart.
This case is here on a direct appeal from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
We are called upon in this case to resolve a dispute between the State of Washington and the Yakima Indian Nation over the validity of the state’s exercise of jurisdiction on the Yakima Reservation.
In 1963, the Washington legislature acting under the asserted authority of a federal law, Public Law 280 obligated the state to assume civil and criminal jurisdiction over Indians and Indian territory within the state subject only to the condition that in all but eight subject matter areas, jurisdiction would not extend to Indians on trust or restricted lands without the request of the Indian Tribe affected.
That state law was Chapter 36 of the 1963 Washington Laws.
The Yakima Nation did not make such a request and state authority over Indians within the Yakima Reservation was therefore made by Chapter 36 to depend on the title status of the property on which the offense or transaction occurred and upon the nature of the subject matter.
The Yakima Nation brought this action in a Federal District Court challenging the statutory and constitutional validity of the State’s partial assertion of jurisdiction on its Reservation.
The District Court decided the case in favor of the state.
Its judgment was ultimately reversed by the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on the ground that the checker board pattern of jurisdiction created by Chapter 36 in this case violates the Fourteenth Amendment.
And the state appealed that judgment to this Court.
The Yakima Nation relies on three separate and independent grounds in asserting that Chapter 36 is invalid.
First, it argues that under the terms of Public Law 280, Washington was not authorized to enact Chapter 36 until the state constitution had been amended by the people so as to eliminate its provision which disclaims state authority over Indian lands.
Second, it contends that Public Law 280 does not authorize any state to extend only partial jurisdiction over an Indian reservation.
Finally, it asserts that Chapter 36 even if authorized by Public Law 280 violates the Fourteenth Amendment of the constitution as the Court of Appeals held.
For the reasons set out in detail in the Court’s necessarily discursive written opinion, we reject all of these claims and reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
Mr. Justice Marshall has filed a dissenting opinion which Mr. Justice Brennan has joined.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you Mr. Justice Stewart.