SENECA FALLS — Should Seneca County be able to foreclose on local properties owned by the Cayuga Nation for not paying property taxes?
Or, does the nation’s claim to sovereign immunity prevent that?
Those are the questions that county officials want the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of the United States, to decide.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan has twice sided with the Cayuga Nation on the matter, but the county believes the issue important enough to ask the Supreme Court to decide.
On Feb. 17, Washington, D.C.-based attorney Paul Clement filed a writ of certiorari petition with SCOTUS on behalf of the county. It asks the court to hear the county’s appeal of the Second Circuit Court decision. It will be up to the nine Supreme Court justices to decide if they want to hear the case, a decision that could take months.
“The court should grant certiorari and finally provide long-awaited clarity on whether the court meant what it said in the City of Sherrill v. Oneida Indian Nation (of New York) case in 2005 or whether tribal sovereign immunity allows a tribe to permanently evade tax liability for property acquired on the open market,” Clement wrote.
Clement said the Second Circuit Court rulings indicate a tribe can purchase land on the open market anywhere in the country, refuse to pay property taxes, then claim immunity from foreclosure proceedings.“The same logic would appear to permit tribes to block any form of compulsory regulatory action vis-à-vis the land, […]