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United States v. Billy Jo Lara and Tribal Sovereignty Over Nonmember Indians.

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The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments January 21 in United States v. Billy Jo Lara, Docket No. 03-107, a case which presents an opportunity for the Court to resolve a split in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals on the issue of tribal sovereignty over nonmember Indians. This confusion stems from the aftermath of the Court's ruling in Duro v. Reina, in which the Court held that a tribe has no inherent authority to assert criminal jurisdiction over Indians who are not members of that tribe. Congress responded by passing amendments to the Indian Civil Rights Act effectively overturning the Supreme Court's interpretation of inherent tribal authority. To resolve the conflict presented by Lara, the Supreme Court must answer novel questions regarding the source of tribal sovereignty and which branch has the final authority to determine the breadth of that sovereignty. This report will be updated when the Court renders its decision.