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Hogan Lovells Secures Major Win for Bay Mills Indian Community in Tribal Immunity Supreme Court Suit

27 May 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. 27 May 2014 – Hogan Lovells secured a landmark victory today in the Supreme Court on behalf of its client, Bay Mills Indian Community, in Michigan v. Bay Mills Indian Community. The justices ruled that tribal sovereign immunity prevents a state from suing in federal court to enjoin a tribe from violating the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) outside of Indian lands. The victory is a rare major Supreme Court win for Indian Tribes.

Partner Neal Katyal, who argued the case, stated today: "Congress and the Supreme Court have long recognized that a State cannot interfere with an Indian Tribe's sovereignty. We are gratified that the Court reaffirmed that longstanding principle today. Bay Mills, a federally recognized Tribe, depends for its livelihood on revenues from gaming activities conducted in accordance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. The Court's decision affords proper deference to Congress' judgment, and it will ensure that Tribes like Bay Mills can continue to fund tribal education and perform other sovereign functions."

The case arose when Michigan attempted to force the Tribe to shut down its off-reservation casino. The Hogan Lovells team argued that the longstanding tradition of Tribal immunity barred Michigan from doing so.

The Supreme Court decision siding with Bay Mills held that as ""'domestic dependent nations,'" Indian tribes exercise "inherent sovereign authority" that is subject to plenary control by Congress."

Neal Katyal, a partner at Hogan Lovells and the former Acting Solicitor General of the United States, argued the case before the Court, his 21st argument before the Court, with 19 of them occurring in the last five years. A team of Hogan Lovells lawyers from the Washington, D.C. office, including Appellate Partner Jessica Ellsworth and associates Amanda Rice and Jonathan Shaub, joined him on the briefs. In the upcoming Supreme Court Term, Hogan Lovells expects to argue several major cases at the Court.

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