Politics
4:29 pm
Fri January 21, 2011

Court says resident can challenge tribe's casino plans

A federal appeals court has ruled that a Wayland Township resident has the legal standing to sue to stop the development of a casino.

The Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians recently announced their plans to open the casino in Wayland Township south of Grand Rapids:

The Associated Press reports that the federal appeals court will allow David Patchak to "challenge how the federal government placed the land in trust for the Gun Lake Tribe of Pottawatomi Indians."

From the report:

Patchak's lawyers have argued that the U.S. Interior Department did not have authority to put the land in trust, clearing the way for a casino, because the tribe was not federally recognized until after 1934. They believe their position is stronger after a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision in a similar case.

Before that decision, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., dismissed Patchak's lawsuit, saying he had no standing to sue. But the appeals court reversed that ruling and sent the case back for a fresh look.

This ruling came down on the same day the tribe announced plans to open the casino.

A tribe spokesman says the ruling will not delay the tribe's plans.