Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Defense cites four main reasons
WASHINGTON — Counsel for Muscogee (Creek) Nation Principal Chief James Floyd has filed a motion to dismiss the case against him brought forth by the Muscogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band Inc.
The motion filed Oct. 5 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, asks the court to dismiss with prejudice the suit based on four main deficiencies.
The motion states that the district court lacks personal jurisdiction over Floyd, the District of Columbia is an improper venue, the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claims and that the plaintiffs have failed to exhaust their tribal administrative and judicial remedies prior to bringing the suit.
Regarding personal jurisdiction, the defense argues that the plaintiffs fail to allege that Floyd has any contacts with the court.
The motion states that Floyd’s presence in D.C. has been limited to governmental meetings, Congressional testimony, conferences and cultural heritage events and not ‘transacted business.’
It states that the plaintiffs have not alleged that any of Floyd’s contacts with the district are related to the passage of the 1979 MCN Constitution, any of its amendments or the process of citizenship with the tribe.
The motion also states that the District of Columbia is an improper venue ‘because all defendants do not reside here and a substantial part of the events giving rise to Plaintiffs’ claims did not occur here.’
The defense argues that the court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over the claims, citing that the Ex Parte Young U.S. Supreme Court case precedent does not apply.
According to the Federal Judicial Center, the case centered on the court ‘holding that when a state official attempted to enforce an unconstitutional statute, that official was deemed to be acting in their personal, rather than official capacity and was there fore not protected by the Eleventh Amendment’s grant to the states of sovereign immunity.’
The argument is that obtaining relief against Floyd would be pointless because he has no authority over citizenship determinations.
Finally, the motion alleges that the plaintiffs have failed to show any facts to support their claims that they have been denied enrollment in the Nation, stating that the plaintiffs fail to prove in their claims that they have even applied for citizenship.
The defense argues that the plaintiffs simply make the conclusion that applying for citizenship would be futile because two alleged Freedmen were denied citizenship a decade ago.
The argument of exhausting tribal remedies is paramount to the dismissal according to the defense.
The motion states, ‘Tribal self-governance goes to the heart of the dispute here: there is perhaps nothing more important to a tribe’s exercise of self-government than determining its own membership.’
The defense goes on to mention in its argument that ‘Courts have consistently held that a tribe’s authority to determine its own membership is a fundamental exercise of self-government and is essential to its continuing existence as an independent sovereign entity.’
The defense has requested for an oral hearing on the motion. The plaintiffs have until Oct. 19 to respond.