March 26, 2018

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to review two cases involving Native American issues — one challenging a decision backing the United Auburn Indian Community’s right to banish a member from tribal land and another involving the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s landmark Keepseagle settlement.

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In the second case, the Supreme Court denied petitions that sought to overturn a D.C. Circuit decision that allows the redistribution of $380 million left over from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s landmark Keepseagle settlement of racial discrimination claims. Those petitions were filed by class representative Keith Mandan and Donivon Craig Tingle, a member of the class.

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In the other case, a class of Native American farmers and ranchers earlier this year urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reject bids to overturn a D.C. Circuit decision that allows the redistribution of $380 million left over from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s landmark Keepseagle settlement of racial discrimination claims,

Mandan and Tingle had filed separate petitions to the high court in December, arguing that a May decision by the D.C. Circuit unfairly permitted the modification of the cy pres provisions of the $680 million Keepseagle deal to distribute much of the unclaimed funds to nonprofit organizations and a trust instead of giving more money to those who previously received payouts through the deal.

“We’re pleased that the court declined review, and we hope that this marks the beginning of the last chapter of this litigation and that we will finally be able to put in place the process to distribute the remaining case funds and put them to work for Native American farmers and ranchers around the country,” Joseph M. Sellers, an attorney for the class in the Keepseagle case, told Law360 on Monday.

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The class in the Keepseagle case is represented by Joseph M. Sellers and Christine E. Webber of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, Jessica Ring Amunson and Andrew C. Noll of Jenner & Block LLP, David J. Frantz of Conlon Frantz & Phelan LLP and Sarah Vogel and Phillip L. Fraas.