The decision reached by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, permitting the application of state criminal law to punish a tribal member whose alleged criminal conduct occurred on an Indian reservation and caused no harm to another person—solely based on the Assimilative Crimes Act (ACA), 18 U.S.C. § 13 is contrary to numerous treaties, acts of Congress, and foundational principles
of tribal sovereignty as construed and upheld by this Court’s federal Indian law jurisprudence. Allowing the Ninth Circuit decision to stand renders express
congressional authorizations and limitations on federal and state criminal jurisdiction over Indians in Indian country meaningless, and subjects tribes and
individual Indians to state law, without express authorization by Congress or the express consent of the tribe. Granting this petition is necessary to correct the Ninth Circuit’s disregard of the principled jurisdictional balance set forth in numerous treaties and acts of Congress as upheld and interpreted by this Court’s jurisprudence since 1832.
Federal Indian Law, Tribal Jurisdiction, Indian Country, Indian Reservations, Assimilative Crimes Act
Barbara L. Creel, Verónica Gonzales-Zamora & Marc-Tizoc Gonzaléz,
Brief of Amici Curiae Law Professors & Indian Law Experts in Support of Petition for a Writ of Certiorari, Smith v. United States,
Available at: https://digitalrepository.unm.edu/law_facultyscholarship/919