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Supreme Court to hear car search, tribal land cases

[JURIST] The US Supreme Court [official website; JURIST news archive] on Monday agreed to hear three cases [Order List, PDF], including Arizona v. Gant (07-542) [docket; cert. petition, PDF] where the Court will consider whether "the Fourth Amendment require[s] law enforcement officers to demonstrate a threat to their safety or a need to preserve evidence related to the crime of arrest in order to justify a warrantless vehicular search incident to arrest conducted after the vehicle's recent occupants have been arrested and secured?" Arizona is appealing an Arizona Supreme Court ruling [PDF text] that Rodney Joseph Gant's constitutional rights were violated when police searched his car after he was handcuffed and seated in a police car. AP has more.

The Court also granted certiorari in Carcieri v. Kempthorne (07-526) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], where the Court will consider whether the US Department of the Interior can take Indian land into federal trust for Indian tribes recognized after the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 took effect. The case involves the Rhode Island Narragansett Tribe, recognized by the federal government in 1983. The tribe asked the federal government to take a 31-acre parcel of land into trust for the tribe, but Rhode Island has argued that the land should be governed by state law. The US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit ruled against Rhode Island [text], holding that the Department of the Interior properly gave the land "Indian country" status. In addition to Indian Reorganization Act question, the Court also agreed to consider "Whether an act of Congress that extinguishes aboriginal title and all claims based on Indian rights and interests in land precludes the Secretary from creating Indian country there." AP has more.

Finally, in Chrones v. Pulido (07-544) [docket; cert. petition, PDF], the Court took an appeal from a US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruling [PDF text] to consider whether "the Ninth Circuit fail[ed] to conform to 'clearly established' Supreme Court law ... when it granted habeas corpus relief by deeming an erroneous instruction on one of two alternative theories of guilt to be 'structural error' requiring reversal because the jury might have relied on it[.]" SCOTUSblog has more on all of Monday's cert. grants.

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