United States v. White Mountain Apache Tribe
United States Supreme Court
537 U.S. 465 (2003)
In 1870, the United States established a military post, Fort Apache, within territory that later became part of the reservation of the White Mountain Apache Tribe (the tribe) (plaintiff). Later, Congress passed the Tucker Act, under which the United States government (defendant) waived sovereign immunity with respect to certain types of claims brought against it. Jurisdiction over these claims was vested in the United States Court of Federal Claims. A companion statute known as the Indian Tucker Act waived US sovereign immunity for Native American tribal claims if the same claims could be brought by nontribal plaintiffs in the Court of Federal Claims. In 1960, Congress passed a statute (the 1960 act) providing that the so-called former Fort Apache Military Reservation would be held in trust by the federal government for the benefit of the tribe. However, this was made subject to the Secretary of the Interior’s ability to make use of the property—an ability that was exercised with respect to several Fort Apache structures. The fort was declared a landmark in 1976, but it soon became endangered due to extensive structural disrepair. The tribe brought suit for money damages in the Court of Federal Claims, alleging that the government had breached its fiduciary duty by failing to maintain and repair the trust property. The court dismissed the action for lack of jurisdiction. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit reversed. The government appealed to the United States Supreme Court.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Souter, J.)
Concurrence (Ginsburg, J.)
Dissent (Thomas, J.)
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