The Supreme Court ruled on Friday Alaskan Native Companies, for-profit companies that serve Alaskan tribal villages, are eligible for a portion of the billions of dollars in coronavirus aid that Congress distributed to “tribal governments” in March 2020.
Alaska Native Corporations were founded in 1971 to manage nearly 45 million acres under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. Tribal governments in the lower 48 states had been charged with challenging the government’s decision to allocate them approximately $ 500 million under the 2020 CARES Act, arguing that the companies did not meet the definition of “Indian tribes.”
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, who wrote for the majority in the 6-3 decision, rejected this argument. The corporations, she wrote, “are Indian tribes, regardless of whether they are officially recognized tribes.”
“The court today upholds what the federal government has said for nearly half a century: A.N.C.s are Indian tribes” as defined in a 1975 law.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Judges Stephen G. Breyer, Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett endorsed the entire opinion of Judge Sotomayor and Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.
In contradiction to this, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch wrote that corporations do not meet the legal definition because they “are not ‘recognized’ as tribes eligible for the special programs and services offered by the United States to Indians by virtue of their Indian status Offer”.
Judges Clarence Thomas and Elena Kagan joined Judge Gorsuch’s disagreement in the Yellen v. Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, No. 20-543 at.
In another decision published on Friday: