The court's most recent salvo in the Long case is no exception. I wrote about this case in April in this paper when the court had just heard oral arguments. My column was titled "A Matter of Disrespect" because in reading the transcript of the oral arguments, it was plainly evident in the questions raised by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Antonin Scalia that they had very little respect for the legitimacy of tribal courts or their decisions.
The question that must be asked: Why are tribal courts treated differently than non-Indian courts? Not willing to confront this head-on, Roberts and his conservative brethren danced around it by issuing a laundry list of alleged rationales to justify their findings: "Tribal sovereignty, it should be remembered, is a 'sovereignty outside the basic structure of the Constitution.' ... 'The Bill of Rights does not apply to Indian tribes.' ... Indian courts 'differ from traditional American courts in a number of significant respects.' ... And non-members have no part in tribal government—they have no say in the laws and regulations that govern tribal territory."
Copyright © 2008 Indian Country Today. This article first appeared in Indian Country Today 28:5 (July 2008), 4.
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Wilkins, David E. “Plainly Wrong: The High Court Takes the Low Road.” Indian Country Today 28, no. 5 (July 9, 2008): 4.