Oral argument: April 24, 2012
Appealed from: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
The Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of the Pottawatomi Indians (“the Band”) requested that the Secretary of the Interior take certain lands in trust under the Indian Reorganization Act in order to allow the tribe to operate a casino under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act. David Patchak, a nearby resident, sued to block the land transfer. The district court dismissed his suit for lack of prudential standing to sue. The court of appeals reversed, and further held that under the Administrative Procedures Act the federal government had expressly disclaimed sovereign immunity. On appeal, the Petitioners—both the federal government and the Band—argue that Patchak’s claim is blocked by the government’s sovereign immunity, invoked by the Quiet Title Act, in claims brought to divest the government of Indian trust lands. In addition, Petitioners contend that Patchak’s interests in the suit do not fall within the zone of interests of the operative statute—the Indian Reorganization Act—and thus Patchak lacks prudential standing. Patchak argues that because his claim challenges agency action under the Administrative Procedures Act, it falls outside the Quiet Title Act and the sovereign immunity invocation. Patchak contends that his interest in the land’s use falls within the IRA’s zone of interests and establishes prudential standing. The Supreme Court’s decision in the case will resolve a standing circuit split on whether the Quiet Title Act applies to cases in which the plaintiff’s interest in divesting the title is something other than a claim of ownership to the land.