Dear USET/USET SPF Family,
This morning, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its opinion
in Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of Chehalis Reservation. In a 6-3 decision, the Court held that for-profit Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) meet the definition of Indian Tribe under Title V of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and are therefore eligible for governmental Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) resources administered by the Department of Treasury. This reversed a lower court’s September 25th decision, where the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that ANCs are not Tribal governments and therefore, are ineligible to be direct recipients of CRF resources. Justice Sonia Sotomayor authored the majority opinion and was joined by Justices Roberts, Breyer, Kavanaugh, and Barrett. Justice Alito joined in part. A dissenting opinion was written by Justice Neil Gorsuch and joined by Justices Thomas and Kagan.
USET SPF provided strong and active participation on an amicus brief submitted to the Court on behalf of a total of ten Tribal organizations, as well as ten Tribal Nations, which argued that ANCs, because they are not federally recognized, do not meet the ‘recognition clause’ under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, which is utilized for the definition of “Indian Tribe” in Title V of the CARES Act. Thus, the brief asserted, the lower court’s decision should be affirmed.
USET SPF is still analyzing this decision and its implications. We will provide additional information as it unfolds. For more information, please contact Liz Malerba, USET SPF Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, at email@example.com.