Letter to CCA e-mailers from U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s message to CCA e-mailers on opposition to any legislation that would overturn the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar
Thank you for contacting me regarding your opposition to any legislation that would overturn the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Carcieri v. Salazar. Like you, I oppose the expansion of casino gambling in Rhode Island, and I appreciate having the benefit of your views.
On February 24, 2009, the Supreme Court held in Carcieri v. Salazar that the Secretary of the Interior does not have the right to take land into trust for Indian tribes, such as the Narragansett, that were not recognized in 1934, when the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) became law. This decision was important because when the Secretary of the Interior takes land into trust for Indian tribes, states in which the land is located lose the right to regulate gaming and other affairs.
In Congress, hearings were held on the Carcieri v. Salazar decision, and some legislative efforts were made to amend the IRA to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling. The House Committee on Natural Resources held a hearing on April 1, 2009 on the decision’s effect on Indian tribes, and on May 21, 2009, the Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a similar hearing regarding the Secretary of the Interior’s authority to take land into trust. After that hearing, Indian Affairs Committee Chairman Byron Dorgan, who has since retired, introduced S. 1703, a bill to amend the IRA and grant the Secretary of the Interior the authority to take land into trust for tribes recognized after 1934. S. 1703 was not considered by the full Senate before the 111th Congress ended.
As you mentioned, the House version of the FY2011 appropriations bill included language proposed by U.S. Representative Tom Cole to amend the IRA and reverse the Supreme Court’s decision. The House passed the spending measure with Rep. Cole’s proposal, but it was not included in the Senate version of the appropriations bill. I worked hard to ensure the final spending bill passed by both chambers of Congress did not include Rep. Cole’s proposal, or any other language related to Carcieri v. Salazar.
Please allow me to assure you that I will closely monitor any efforts in the 112th Congress to amend the IRA to reverse Carcieri v. Salazar, and that I will continue to oppose any expansion of casino gambling in Rhode Island.
Thank you again for sharing your views. I hope you’ll continue to stay in touch on any matter of concern to you.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
The writer represents Rhode Island in the United States Senate