Tribal supporters outside U.S. Supreme Court in December 2015. Native News Online photo by Mark Charles.
Published June 23, 2016
WASHINGTON – With the 4-4 split, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians over Dollar General today. The decision is a huge victory for tribal sovereignty and is significant because the line between federal and tribal court jurisdiction over cases involving non-tribal citizens.
The decision means Dollar General will now face a $2.5 million dollar lawsuit over the alleged sexual assault of an American Indian in tribal court.
Today’s court decision stemmed from a 2003 incident involving Dollar General manager, Dale Townsend, who was accused of molesting a 13-year-old Choctaw male citizen who was working at the store Townsend managed.
Dollar General’s defense in the federal court case was tribes do not have “inherent sovereignty” over non-tribal citizens.
Several legal and advocacy groups rallied on the steps of the Supreme Court to express their dismay that the high court has agreed to hear the case at all, after four separate lower courts affirmed the tribal court’s right to hear the sexual assault case involving Dollar General. (Dollar General / YouTube)