California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, No. 85-1708

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtWHITE
PartiesCALIFORNIA, et al., Appellants, v. CABAZON BAND OF MISSION INDIANS et al
Decision Date25 February 1987
Docket NumberNo. 85-1708

480 U.S. 202
107 S.Ct. 1083
94 L.Ed.2d 244
CALIFORNIA, et al., Appellants,

v.

CABAZON BAND OF MISSION INDIANS et al.

No. 85-1708.
Argued Dec. 9, 1986.
Decided Feb. 25, 1987.
Syllabus

Appellee Indian Tribes (the Cabazon and Morongo Bands of Mission Indians) occupy reservations in Riverside County, Cal. Each Band, pursuant to its federally approved ordinance, conducts on its reservation bingo games that are open to the public. The Cabazon Band also operates a card club for playing draw poker and other card games. The gambling games are open to the public and are played predominantly by non-Indians coming onto the reservations. California sought to apply to the Tribes its statute governing the operation of bingo games. Riverside County also sought to apply its ordinance regulating bingo, as well as its ordinance prohibiting the playing of draw poker and other card games. The Tribes instituted an action for declaratory relief in Federal District Court, which entered summary judgment for the Tribes, holding that neither the State nor the county had any authority to enforce its gambling laws within the reservations. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

Held:

1. Although state laws may be applied to tribal Indians on their reservations if Congress has expressly consented, Congress has not done so here either by Pub.L. 280 or by the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (OCCA). Pp. 207-214.

(a) In Pub.L. 280, the primary concern of which was combating lawlessness on reservations, California was granted broad criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed by or against Indians within all Indian country within the State but more limited, nonregulatory civil jurisdiction. When a State seeks to enforce a law within an Indian reservation under the authority of Pub.L. 280, it must be determined whether the state law is criminal in nature and thus fully applicable to the reservation, or civil in nature and applicable only as it may be relevant to private civil litigation in state court. There is a fair basis for the Court of Appeals' conclusion that California's statute, which permits bingo games to be conducted only by certain types of organizations under certain restrictions, is not a "criminal/prohibitory" statute falling within Pub.L. 280's grant of criminal jurisdiction, but instead is a "civil/regulatory" statute not authorized by Pub.L. 280 to be enforced on Indian reservations. That an otherwise regulatory law is enforceable (as here) by

Page 203

criminal as well as civil means does not necessarily convert it into a criminal law within Pub.L. 280's meaning. Pp. 207-212.

(b) Enforcement of OCCA, which makes certain violations of state and local gambling laws violations of federal criminal law, is an exercise of federal rather than state authority. There is nothing in OCCA indicating that the States are to have any part in enforcing the federal laws or are authorized to make arrests on Indian reservations that in the absence of OCCA they could not effect. California may not make arrests on reservations and thus, through OCCA, enforce its gambling laws against Indian tribes. Pp. 212-214.

2. Even though not expressly authorized by Congress, state and local laws may be applied to on-reservation activities of tribes and tribal members under certain circumstances. The decision in this case turns on whether state authority is pre-empted by the operation of federal law. State jurisdiction is pre-empted if it interferes or is incompatible with federal and tribal interests reflected in federal law, unless the state interests at stake are sufficient to justify the assertion of state authority. The federal interests in Indian self-government, including the goal of encouraging tribal self-sufficiency and economic development, are important, and federal agencies, acting under federal laws, have sought to implement them by promoting and overseeing tribal bingo and gambling enterprises. Such policies and actions are of particular relevance in this case since the tribal games provide the sole source of revenues for the operation of the tribal governments and are the major sources of employment for tribal members. To the extent that the State seeks to prevent all bingo games on tribal lands while permitting regulated off-reservation games, the asserted state interest in preventing the infiltration of the tribal games by organized crime is irrelevant, and the state and county laws are pre-empted. Even to the extent that the State and county seek to regulate short of prohibition, the laws are pre-empted since the asserted state interest is not sufficient to escape the pre-emptive force of the federal and tribal interests apparent in this case. Pp. 214-222.

783 F.2d 900 (CA 9 1986), affirmed and remanded.

WHITE, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and BRENNAN, MARSHALL, BLACKMUN, and POWELL, JJ., joined. STEVENS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which O'CONNOR and SCALIA, JJ., joined, post, p. ---.

Roderick E. Walston, San Francisco, Cal., for petitioner.

Page 204

Glenn M. Feldman, Phoenix, Ariz., for respondents.

Justice WHITE delivered the opinion of the Court.

The Cabazon and Morongo Bands of Mission Indians, federally recognized Indian Tribes, occupy reservations in Riverside County, California.1 Each Band, pursuant to an

Page 205

ordinance approved by the Secretary of the Interior, conducts bingo games on its reservation.2 The Cabazon Band has also opened a card club at which draw poker and other card games are played. The games are open to the public and are played predominantly by non-Indians coming onto the reservations. The games are a major source of employment for tribal members, and the profits are the Tribes' sole source of income. The State of California seeks to apply to the two Tribes Cal.Penal Code Ann. § 326.5 (West Supp.1987). That statute does not entirely prohibit the playing of bingo but permits it when the games are operated and staffed by members of designated charitable organizations who may not be paid for their services. Profits must be kept in special accounts and used only for charitable purposes; prizes may not exceed $250 per game. Asserting that the bingo games on the two reservations violated each of these restrictions, California insisted that the Tribes comply with state law.3 Riverside

Page 206

County also sought to apply its local Ordinance No. 558, regulating bingo, as well as its Ordinance No. 331, prohibiting the playing of draw poker and the other card games.

The Tribes sued the county in Federal District Court seeking a declaratory judgment that the county had no authority to apply its ordinances inside the reservations and an injunction against their enforcement. The State intervened, the facts were stipulated, and the District Court granted the Tribes' motion for summary judgment, holding that neither the State nor the county had any authority to enforce its gambling laws within the reservations. The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed, 783 F.2d 900 (1986), the State and the county appealed, and we postponed jurisdiction to the hearing on the merits. 476 U.S. 1168, 106 S.Ct. 2888, 90 L.Ed.2d 975.4

Page 207

I

The Court has consistently recognized that Indian tribes retain "attributes of sovereignty over both their members and their territory," United States v. Mazurie, 419 U.S. 544, 557, 95 S.Ct. 710, 717, 42 L.Ed.2d 706 (1975), and that "tribal sovereignty is dependent on, and subordinate to, only the Federal Government, not the States," Washington v. Confederated Tribes of Colville Indian Reservation, 447 U.S. 134, 154, 100 S.Ct. 2069, 2081, 65 L.Ed.2d 10 (1980). It is clear, however, that state laws may be applied to tribal Indians on their reservations if Congress has expressly so provided. Here, the State insists that Congress has twice given its express consent: first in Pub.L. 280 in 1953, 67 Stat. 588, as amended, 18 U.S.C. § 1162, 28 U.S.C. § 1360 (1982 ed. and Supp. III), and second in the Organized Crime Control Act in 1970, 84 Stat. 937, 18 U.S.C. § 1955. We disagree in both respects.

In Pub.L. 280, Congress expressly granted six States, including California, jurisdiction over specified areas of Indian country 5 within the States and provided for the assumption of jurisdiction by other States. In § 2, California was granted broad criminal jurisdiction over offenses committed by or against Indians within all Indian country within the State.6 Section 4's grant of civil jurisdiction was more lim-

Page 208

ited.7 In Bryan v. Itasca County, 426 U.S. 373, 96 S.Ct. 2102, 48 L.Ed.2d 710 (1976), we interpreted § 4 to grant States jurisdiction over private civil litigation involving reservation Indians in state court, but not to grant general civil regulatory authority. Id., at 385, 388-390, 96 S.Ct., at 2109, 2110-2112. We held, therefore, that Minnesota could not apply its personal property tax within the reservation. Congress' primary concern in enacting Pub.L. 280 was combating lawlessness on reservations. Id., at 379-380, 96 S.Ct., at 2106-2107. The Act plainly was not intended to effect total assimilation of Indian tribes into mainstream American society. Id., at 387, 96 S.Ct., at 2110. We recognized that a grant to States of general civil regulatory power over Indian reservations would result in the destruction of tribal institutions and values. Accordingly, when a State seeks to enforce a law within an Indian reservation under the authority of Pub.L. 280, it must be determined whether the law is criminal in nature, and thus fully applicable to the reservation under § 2, or civil in nature, and applicable only as it may be relevant to private civil litigation in state court.

The Minnesota personal property tax at issue in Bryan was unquestionably civil in nature. The California bingo statute is not so easily categorized. California law permits bingo

Page 209

games to be conducted only by...

To continue reading

Request your trial
516 practice notes
  • Water pollution; discharge of pollutants (NPDES): Maine,
    • United States
    • Federal Register November 18, 2003
    • November 18, 2003
    ...under federal Indian law is that states generally lack authority in Indian country. California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 214-15 (1987). Thus, if a state does not demonstrate specific authority in Indian country, EPA will not approve a state application to administer ......
  • Immigration: Criminal activity victims; ”U” nonimmigrant classification,
    • United States
    • Federal Register September 17, 2007
    • September 17, 2007
    ...courts have applied this statutory definition to both criminal and civil matters. See California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 208 n.5 Similarly, the term ``military installation'' is not defined in the BIWPA. This rule defines that term as meaning any facility, base, ca......
  • Part IV
    • United States
    • Federal Register September 17, 2007
    • September 17, 2007
    ...courts have applied this statutory definition to both criminal and civil matters. See California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 208 n.5 Similarly, the term ``military installation'' is not defined in the BIWPA. This rule defines that term as meaning any facility, base, ca......
  • Federal and Indian lands programs: Indian lands; definition clarification; agency decision,
    • United States
    • Federal Register April 25, 2007
    • April 25, 2007
    ...The cited cases include: Oklahoma Tax Comm'n. v. Sac & Fox Nation, 508 U.S. 114 (1993); California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 207 n.5 (1987); DeCoteau v. District County Court for Tenth Judicial Dist., 420 U.S. 425, 427 n.2 and 445-446 (1975); and McClanahan v. Ar......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
493 cases
  • Nat'l Labor Relations Bd. v. Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Tribal Gov't, No. 14–2239.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (6th Circuit)
    • June 9, 2015
    ...operation of a commercial gaming facility. See San Manuel, 475 F.3d at 1318.We do not read California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 107 S.Ct. 1083, 94 L.Ed.2d 244 (1987), or New Mexico v. Mescalero Apache Tribe, 462 U.S. 324, 103 S.Ct. 2378, 76 L.Ed.2d 611 (1983), to req......
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Gerlach, CIV 14-4171
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. District of South Dakota
    • December 18, 2015
    ...U.S.C. § 2705. IGRA was passed as a congressional response to the Supreme Court decision in California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 107 S.Ct. 1083, 94 L.Ed.2d 244 (1987). See Texas v. U . S., 497 F.3d at 500. Specifically, it “was 'intended to expressly preempt the fiel......
  • Seminole Tribe Florida v. Florida, 9412
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 27, 1996
    ...that the Act extends to the States a power withheld from them by the Constitution. See California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 107 S.Ct. 1083, 94 L.Ed.2d 244 (1987). Nevertheless, we do not see how that consideration is relevant to the question whether Congress may abro......
  • Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe v. Noem, No. 18-1271
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Eighth Circuit
    • September 6, 2019
    ...to the use tax at issue is the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, 25 U.S.C. §§ 2701 et seq. In California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202, 107 S.Ct. 1083, 94 L.Ed.2d 244 (1987), the Supreme Court held that a California law limiting bingo could not be applied to high stakes triba......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
1 firm's commentaries
  • Indian Nations Law Update - July 2022
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • July 26, 2022
    ...circumstances (usually for charity). Just like Texas, California criminalized violations of its rules. Compare Cabazon, 480 U.S. at 205, 107 S.Ct. 1083, with Tex. Occ. Code Ann. ' 2001.551. Still, because California permitted some forms of bingo, the Court concluded that meant California di......
2 books & journal articles
  • Indian Nations as Interest Groups
    • United States
    • Political Research Quarterly Nbr. 65-1, March 2012
    • March 1, 2012
    ...2000. Determi- Quarterly 58(4): 681-688. nants of automobile PAC contributions to House incum- California v. Cabazon Band of Indians, 480 U.S. 202 bents: Own versus rival effects. Public Choice 104:329-43. Cornell, Stephen. 1988. Return of the Native: American Indian Light, Steven Andrew, a......
  • Intergovernmental Relations and Native American Gaming
    • United States
    • American Review of Public Administration, The Nbr. 35-1, March 2005
    • March 1, 2005
    ...of tribal economic development. American Review of Public Administration, 26(2), 213-229. California v. Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, 480 U.S. 202 Casino deal heads to Senate. (2001, March 7). Albuquerque Journal, p. A1. Contreras, G. (2002). Exclusivity agreements in tribal-state compac......

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT