Inyo County v. Paiute-Shoshone Indians of Bishop Community of Bishop Colony, 538 U.S. 701 (2003)

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OCTOBER TERM, 2002

Syllabus

INYO COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, et al. v. PAIUTE-SHOSHONE INDIANS OF THE BISHOP COMMUNITY OF THE BISHOP COLONY et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the ninth circuit

No. 02-281. Argued March 31, 2003—Decided May 19, 2003

The Bishop Paiute Tribe in California chartered and wholly owns the

Bishop Paiute Gaming Corporation, which operates and manages the Paiute Palace Casino (Casino), a tribal gaming operation. When the Inyo County District Attorney asked the Casino for the employment records of three Casino employees under investigation for welfare fraud, the Tribe responded that its privacy policy precluded release of the records without the employees' consent. The District Attorney, on showing probable cause, then obtained and executed a search warrant authorizing a search of the Casino for payroll records of the three employees. The District Attorney subsequently asked for the records of six other Casino employees. The Tribe reiterated its privacy policy, but offered to accept as evidence of consent a redacted copy of the last page of each employee's signed welfare application. The District Attorney refused the offer. To ward off any additional searches, the Tribe and its Gaming Corporation filed suit in Federal District Court against the District Attorney and the Sheriff, in their individual and official capacities, and Inyo County (County). Asserting federal-question jurisdiction under 28 U. S. C. 1331, 1337, 1343(i)(3)(4), and the federal common law of Indian affairs, the Tribe sought injunctive and declaratory relief to vindicate its status as a sovereign immune from state processes under federal law, and to establish that state law was preempted to the extent that it purported to authorize seizure of tribal records. The Tribe also sought relief under 42 U. S. C. 1983, including compensatory damages, alleging that the defendants violated the Tribe's and Gaming Corporation's Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights and the Tribe's right to self-government. The District Court, on defendants' motion, dismissed the Tribe's complaint, holding, inter alia, that tribal sovereign immunity did not categorically preclude the search and seizure of the Casino's personnel records. The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding that execution of a search warrant against the Tribe interfered with "the right of reservation Indians to make their own laws and be ruled by them." Williams v. Lee, 358 U. S. 217, 220. Acknowledging a prior

701

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