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Supreme Court to rule on federal payment for American Indian tribes

The US Supreme Court [official website] granted certiorari [order list, PDF] Friday in Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter [docket; cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether the federal government must pay American Indian tribes all contract-related costs incurred under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act [text], where the contract support costs exceed the funds that the government has made available to pay such costs. The US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in May interpreted the statutory language in favor of the tribal contractors [opinion, PDF], stating that the federal government must pay the costs because the annual federal funds available under the act were sufficient to cover any individual contract.

Also Friday, the court agreed to rule in Florida v. Jardines [docket, cert. petition, PDF] to determine whether the use of a drug-sniffing dog at the front door of a house is a search under the Fourth Amendment [text] requiring probable cause. The Supreme Court of Florida ruled [opinion, PDF] in April that the "sniff test" was a search under the Fourth Amendment and required probable cause, not reasonable suspicion.

On Monday the court denied certiorari [order list, PDF] in Cash v. Maxwell [docket], upholding the Ninth Circuit decision [opinion, PDF] reversing the 1984 conviction of Bobby Joe Maxwell for the murders of 10 homeless men. The Ninth Circuit presented evidence showing that Maxwell's conviction had been based on testimony from an unreliable witness. However, Justices Scalia and Alito dissented to the denial of certiorari, arguing that the Ninth Circuit relied on circumstantial evidence and that the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of1996 (AEDPA) [text] prevented federal reconsideration of the case. Also Monday, the court affirmed a lower court ruling in Bluman v. FEC [docket; jurisdictional statement, PDF] that foreign nationals living in the US cannot contribute to US election campaigns, making clear that its controversial decision in Citizens United v. FEC [JURIST report] does not extend beyond US citizens.

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