“Many Native Americans worry that Supreme Court justice candidate Brett Kavanaugh could work to restrict tribal sovereignty, which they say is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.” VOA
Excerpt: Native Americans Worry Trump Supreme Court Pick Threatens Sovereignty-VOA
“Native Americans have expressed concern about Trump’s pick for Supreme Court justice, Brett Kavanaugh… Many believe that Kavanaugh does not recognize the sovereignty of tribes, which govern themselves as independent nations within the United States.
Tribal nations, through hundreds of treaties with the government, ceded more than half a billion hectares of land in exchange for reservations, services, protections and rights — chief of which was sovereignty, the right to rule themselves and make decisions about how to use their own land.
Their sovereignty, they argue, was recognized by America’s founding fathers and is implicit in the wording of the U.S. Constitution, which gives Congress the power ‘to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.’ But the nature of the relationship began to change in the 19th century.
‘We went from an era of sovereign-to-sovereign relationships into an era of military conquest by the U.S. of tribes and their territories,’ said Harvard University international economics professor Joseph P. Kalt, an expert on tribal sovereignty. ‘Tribes depend pretty heavily on lots of federal statutes to create a place for tribes to govern — things like the Indian Child Welfare Act, the authority of the Interior Department to acquire land in trust for tribes so that they can expand their land bases,’ said Matthew L. M. Fletcher, a member of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians in Michigan…But when lower court cases get to the Supreme Court, in some cases, a 200-year precedent doesn’t seem to matter.
He said many tribes worry that if a conservative Republican like Kavanaugh is confirmed, the Supreme Court could reverse some of the gains they’ve made over the last 40 years, particularly with regard to the environment…The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has urged tribal leaders to watch the confirmation hearings carefully, noting that Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom Kavanaugh would replace, was a key vote on important tribal issues.”