Amicus: Judging Tribal Courts

An alleged sexual assault on the Choctaw reservation has the Supreme Court asking whether non-Indians should face justice in the Indian court system.

Listen to Episode 33 of Slate’s Amicus:

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A little over a decade ago, a Choctaw Indian boy working in a Dollar General store says he was sexually abused by his supervisor. But when his family filed a lawsuit in the Choctaw tribal court, Dollar General objected, arguing that Indian courts don’t have jurisdiction to hear tort cases against non-Indians. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court, where it was argued earlier this month as Dollar General Corporation v. Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.


On this episode, we are joined by attorney Mary Kathyrn Nagle, who authored an amicus brief on behalf of the the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center.* She explains that while the Supreme Court has been chipping away at the tribal court system for several decades, the court was not always so hostile to claims of Indian sovereignty.

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Podcast production by Tony Field.

Correction, Dec. 31, 2015: This article originally stated that Mary Kathryn Nagle authored an amicus brief on behalf of the Choctaw. Her brief was on behalf of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, submitted in support of the Choctaws.