©2015 Concerned Citizens of Western Montana
In a stunning blow to the CSKT march on Montana, a federal judge declined to take jurisdiction over the issues raised in the Tribes federal lawsuit, filed in February 2014. The court decision may be viewed here: Motion to Dismiss.
Notice that the decision does not state that the CSKT Compact has passed the legislature.
The federal case, which the Tribes portrayed as “narrowly tailored” to one request to determine ownership of the FIPP water,actually had eleven elements, including the declaration that the tribes owned all the water flowing into, under, or through the reservation. The court decision issued today also alludes to the Compact containing the same elements as the Tribes initial complaint.
The proper place and time for exposition of the contentions and points of law listed in the Tribes’ declaratory prayer for relief is in the future adjudicatory proceeding in the Montana Water Court, not now in this federal forum. In sum, by seeking what amounts to an advisory declaration, the Tribes fail to raise an actual case or controversy amenable to declaratory judgment
Judge Manley and two justices in the Montana Water Court were named by the Tribes as well as an unknown number of John Does, the three irrigation districts, several individuals, and the United States. Maybe this will enable all the judges to get back to work on the cases stalled by the Tribes’ federal action.
We absolutely expect the Tribes to appeal to the Ninth Circuit, although others do not. Remember this “narrowly-tailored” case with eleven (11) elements did not get a hearing and was delayed by the United States for about a year, so what record does an appeal court have to review?
Just for the reader’s information, we do know that all these issues will come back until they are fully resolved at the United States Supreme Court.