Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ninth Circuit affirms scope of specific Yakama treaty provision

On May 18, the Ninth Circuit released its opinion in U.S. v. Smiskin affirming the dismissal of a prosecution of two Yakama individuals under the federal Contraband Cigarette Trafficking Act. The federal statute permits prosecution of individuals who traffic cigarettes in violation of state law, in this case Washington's law requiring notice to state officials before transporting unstamped cigarettes within the state. The defendants argued that enforcing this requirement would violate the “right, in common with all other citizens, to travel on state highways,” secured by the Yakama in their 1855 Treaty. The district court, and this month the Ninth Circuit, have upheld this argument. This is a nice example of the importance of looking at a tribe's specific treaty rights in Indian law cases.

You can read the opinion here:$file/0530590.pdf?openelement

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