U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Yakama Treaty Rights in Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc.

Apr 15, 2019

By Mathew L. Harrington and Jaime Cuevas, Jr. | Related Practice: Litigation

Mat Harrington and Jr Cuevas were co-authors, along with Leonard Powell and Adam Unikowsky with Jenner & Block, of this article that appeared in the Spring 2019 edition of the WSBA's Indian Law Newsletter.

Recently in Washington State Department of Licensing v. Cougar Den, Inc., the United States Supreme Court held that the Yakama Nation’s Treaty of 1855 with the United States preempts Washington state fuel taxes as applied to Yakama transportation of fuel from the southern Washington state line to the Yakama Indian Reservation. As the first Roberts Court decision to interpret an Indian treaty, Cougar Den is both a vindication of the Yakama Nation’s Treaty rights and a promising beginning to the Roberts Court’s Indian treaty jurisprudence.