Indian Country Today Media Network
“Supreme Court Denies Hearing in Pala Enrollment Case, More Disenrollment Cases Expected”
Jan. 27, 2017
Professor of Practice James Diamond, director of Arizona Law’s Tribal Justice Clinic, was quoted in a recent article covering Aguayo v. Jewell, a case challenging the disenrollment of tribal members of the Pala Band of Mission Indians in California. Earlier this year, Diamond and students enrolled in the Tribal Justice Clinic submitted a brief to the Supreme Court on the case.
“Illegitimate tribal disenrollment is currently an epidemic across Indian country that has caused severe hardship to thousands of disenfranchised Indians,” said Diamond, noting that “the urgency of the government protecting Indians from arbitrary tribal disenrollment outweighs the tribe’s interest in restricting [citizenship].”
Arizona Law alumnus Gabe Galanda was also quoted in the article. “Indian country dodged a bullet,” Galanda said. “No tribal politicians should ever again tempt SCOTUS to ask and answer the question, ‘Who’s a tribal member?’ In other words, disenrollment must stop before SCOTUS or the Congress is allowed to ask and answer that existential question for Indian country. Rest assured we wouldn’t like their answer.” Galanda has been representing a group of disenrolled members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe.
The petitioners challenged the Bureau of Indian Affair’s decision to uphold the Pala Band’s disenrollment of more than 160 members, arguing that the process violated due process rights and provisions within the Administrative Procedures Act. While the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case, many legal analysts anticipate continued litigation over the issue of tribal membership and what due process rights should be afforded tribal members who are removed as tribal members.