The Supreme Court of the United States announced decisions in four cases this morning:

Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians v. Patchak, Nos. 11-246 & 247: The Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to acquire property “for the purpose of providing land to Indians.” Petitioner Indian tribe requested that the Secretary take certain land into trust, and respondent, an individual who lives near that land, filed suit under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), asserting that the IRA did not authorize the Secretary to acquire the property because petitioner was not a federally recognized tribe when the IRA was enacted in 1934. The District Court did not reach the merits of the suit, instead ruling that petitioner lacked prudential standing to challenge the Secretary’s acquisition of the property. On appeal, the D. C. Circuit reversed that ruling and also rejected an alternative argument that sovereign immunity barred the suit. Today, the Court affirmed the D.C. Circuit and remanded for further proceedings, holding that the so-called “Indian lands exception” to the APA’s general waiver of federal governmental immunity did not apply here, and that respondent had prudential standing to bring his action.

The Court’s opinion is available here.

Salazar v. Ramah Navajo Chapter, No. 11-551: The Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDA) directs the Secretary of the Interior to enter into contracts with willing tribes under which they will provide services such as education and law enforcement that the Federal Government otherwise would have provided. It requires the Secretary to contract to pay the “full amount” of “contract support costs,” subject to the availability of appropriations. Respondent Tribes contracted with the Secretary to provide services during certain years, and during each of those years, Congress appropriated sufficient funds to pay any individual tribal contractor’s contract support costs in full but did not appropriate enough to pay all tribal contractors collectively. Unable to pay every contractor in full, the Secretary paid the Tribes on a uniform, pro rata basis. Respondents sued for breach of contract. The District Court granted the Government summary judgment, but the Tenth Circuit reversed, finding the Government liable to each contractor for the full contract amount. Today the Court affirmed the Tenth Circuit, holding that, consistent with longstanding principles of government contracting law, the Government must pay each tribe’s contract support costs in full, and saying that it was the responsibility of Congress to resolve the tension between the promise of full payment for each contract and the lack of a sufficient total amount of appropriations.

The Court’s opinion is available here.

Williams v. Illinois, No. 10-8505: In petitioner’s bench trial for rape, the prosecution called an expert who testified that a DNA profile produced by an outside laboratory, Cellmark, matched a profile produced by the state police lab using a sample of petitioner’s blood. On direct examination, the expert testified that Cellmark was an accredited laboratory and that Cellmark provided the police with a DNA profile. The expert also explained the notations on documents admitted as business records, stating that, according to the records, vaginal swabs taken from the victim were sent to and received back from Cellmark. The expert made no other statement that was offered for the purpose of identifying the sample of biological material used in deriving the profile or for the purpose of establishing how Cellmark handled or tested the sample. Nor did the expert vouch for the accuracy of the profile that Cellmark produced. Nevertheless, petitioner contended that the expert’s testimony violated the Confrontation Clause because the expert referred to the DNA profile provided by Cellmark as having been produced from semen found on the victim’s vaginal swabs. Both the Illinois Appellate Court and the Illinois Supreme Court found that this statement was not admitted for the truth of the matter asserted, and that the Confrontation Clause did not bar the admission of such statements. Today the Court affirmed, but without a majority opinion.

The Court’s opinion is available here.

Christopher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., No. 11-204: The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires employers to pay employees overtime wages, but not to workers employed “in the capacity of outside salesman,” which term Congress gave the Department of Labor (DOL) authority to define. In this case, the question was whether the DOL’s regulatory definition encompasses pharmaceutical sales representatives whose primary duty is to obtain nonbinding commitments from physicians to prescribe their employer’s prescription drugs in appropriate cases. Today, the Court affirmed the Ninth Circuit’s determination that petitioners qualify as outside salesmen under the most reasonable interpretation of the DOL’s regulations.

The Court’s opinion is available here.

The Court also granted review in one case:

Smith v. United States, No. 11-8976: What is (and who bears) the burden of persuasion concerning a defendant’s alleged withdrawal from a conspiracy?