The Supreme Court ruled this Tuesday that the Congress had rightfully dismissed a lawsuit over a Native American tribe’s Michigan casino. The ruling came in relation to a legal motion filed by a Michigan resident against the government and an American Indian tribe. The man challenged the tribe’s casino expansion plans, claiming that the gambling venue will be too close to his rural property in Wayland Township and it will have a negative environmental impact.
In 2008, David Patchak from Michigan filed a lawsuit in a bid to prevent the construction of a gambling property, which would be located in close proximity to his land. The man challenged the Department of the Interior’s decision to take land into trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and allow them to build Gun Lake Casino.
Among all other things, the man lauded concerns related to the negative environmental consequences of building a casino. Roughly estimated, the casino would bring over 3 million visitors per year. Needless to say, casino gambling is an efficient tool for economic growth, improving local employment and bringing fresh money to the local government. Despite the broad economic benefits of hosting a casino, it also has its dark side.
Environmental Issues Come into Consideration
Over the years, gambling has tended to increase negative public attitudes. Usually, environmental concerns are not at the forefront when people consider the positive and negative sides of casino gambling. Patchak explained that the casino would bring over 3 million visitors every year. The increased number of tourists is inevitably related to pollution and traffic inconvenience.
In addition to that, Patchak noted that the casino would dramatically change the rural character of the area. He also argued that the federal government violated federal law by setting aside the land for use by the tribe. The federal court initially dismissed Patchak’s case. More than a year after the tribe completed the construction of its proposed casino, the Supreme Court gave the go-ahead to Patchak’s case.
The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians and the federal government asserted the so-called Quiet Title Act. Under it, lawsuits challenging the government’s ownership of Indian trust lands are inadmissible. Patchak’s lawyer Scott E. Gant argued that the Congress unrighteously directed the result in his client’s case, which violated the separation-of-powers principle in the Constitution.
In response to Gant’s claims, Justice Elena Kagan explained that the Supreme Court has the power to take over the jurisdiction of the federal courts, especially when it comes to pending cases. After years of legal fights, it seems that the Supreme Court handed the win to the tribal nation’s Gun Lake Casino.