U.S. 9th Circuit Court Upholds Constitution’s Restricting Gaming to Indian Tribal Lands

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U.S. 9th Circuit Court Upholds Constitution’s Restricting Gaming to Indian Tribal Lands

December 23, 2003

California voters’ approval of Proposition 1A in 2000, which restricting gaming to Indian tribal lands, violated no federal law, even though it gave Indian tribes the exclusive right to operate casinos, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

The decision Monday by a three-judge panel upheld a July 2002 ruling by the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of California which found Proposition 1A to be constitutionally sound and rejected a lawsuit by a small group of California card room operators.

Both courts found the state’s decision to permit tribal casinos violates neither the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, nor the U.S. constitutional guarantee of equal protection.

“California Indian communities are deeply gratified to see two federal courts have now upheld the overwhelming mandate of California voters for Indian self-reliance,” said Jacob Coin, executive director of CNIGA. “We are grateful to the millions of Californians and thousands of organizations that gave us their support and commitment. With this legal challenge behind us, California Indian tribes can continue on our path to self-reliance.

“The lawsuit brought by the card clubs sought to expand gaming beyond state and federal limits and to destroy the progress that the tribes and the state have made since Indian gaming was approved by voters.”

However, the three-judge panel soundly rejected all the plaintiff’s arguments and held that Indian gaming in California is “rationally related to the federal government’s interest in fostering tribal self government.”

It is clear to us that the overwhelming majority of Californians want to see the limited and regulated tribal gaming authorized in Proposition 1A continue uninterrupted.

Thanks to Proposition 1A, Indian gaming is transforming the lives of California Indians and is allowing us to provide better health-care, housing and education for our people. We continue to be grateful to the millions of Californians and thousands of organizations that have supported California’s tribes’ efforts toward self reliance and self sufficiency.

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