United Auburn Indian Community of Auburn Rancheria v. BrownAnnotate this Case
In 2002 the Enterprise Rancheria of Maidu Indians of California (Enterprise Tribe) submitted a request to the United States Department of the Interior (Department) to acquire a site in Yuba County for the purpose of establishing a casino/hotel resort complex. Pursuant to statute, the Secretary was authorized to acquire land, within or without an existing reservation, for the purpose of providing land for Indians. Land so acquired after October 17, 1988, could not, with some exceptions, be used for gaming. The exception at issue here was where the Secretary “after consultation with the Indian tribe and appropriate State and local officials, including officials of other nearby Indian tribes, determines that a gaming establishment on newly acquired lands would be in the best interest of the Indian tribe and its members, and would not be detrimental to the surrounding community, but only if the Governor of the State in which the gaming activity is to be conducted concurs in the Secretary’s determination.” The Governor indicated his official concurrence with the Assistant Secretary’s determination. Plaintiff Auburn Tribe owned and operated the Thunder Valley Resort and Casino, approximately 20 miles from the Yuba County site. The Auburn Tribe filed a petition for writ of mandate and complaint for declaratory relief, alleging: (1) the Governor was required to comply with California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) before concurring in the Secretary’s decision to take lands into trust for the Enterprise Tribe; and (2) the Governor performed a legislative act when he concurred with the Secretary and when he negotiated and executed the compact with the Enterprise Tribe, in violation of the constitutional mandate of separation of powers. After review, the Court of Appeals concluded the CEQA did not apply here, and that the Governor’s concurrence did not violate the separation of powers clause. Accordingly, the Court affirmed.