U.S. Supreme Court Reviews U.S. v. Cooley

In November 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a writ of certiorari, agreeing to hear U.S. v. Cooley (No. 19-1414), a case arising within the Crow Tribe’s reservation on land defined as Indian Country. The question before the Supreme Court is “whether the lower courts erred in suppressing evidence on the theory that a police officer of an Indian tribe lacked authority to temporarily detain and search . . . a non-Indian, on a public right-of-way within a reservation based on a potential violation of state or federal law.”

Because the rates of non-Indian perpetrated violence in Indian country is significant, the lower courts’ decisions threaten to undermine the ability of tribal governments to ensure the safety of reservation residents and to significantly impair the ability of tribal police to implement the restored tribal criminal jurisdiction passed by Congress in the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013.  Accordingly, the Indian Law Resource Center joined the Amicus Brief filed by the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center in January 2021.  In its amicus brief NIWRC has noted that:

“NIWRC's work to eliminate domestic violence against Native women and children is directly implicated by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal's decision eliminating the authority of tribal law enforcement to conduct a reasonable suspicion Terry stop on a non-Indian traveling within reservation borders. According to the new standard now articulated by the Ninth Circuit, until or unless tribal law enforcement witness an "obvious" or "apparent" violation of state or federal law, tribal law enforcement remains without the requisite authority to briefly stop and conduct a limited investigation of a non-Indian when there is reasonable suspicion they have committed a crime.”

The Court will hold a one hour oral argument in U.S. v. Cooley on at 10:00 a.m. (EDT) on March 23, 2021.  Due to COVID-19, the Court will hear the argument by telephone conference, but a live audio feed will be provided to C-SPAN and other media sources.  For more information about the C-SPAN live audio feed visit https://www.c-span.org/video/?508645-1/united-states-v-cooley-oral-argument.  The audio and a transcript also will be posted on the Court’s website.


Brief of Amici Curiae National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, et al., in Support of Petitioner

Docket for U.S. v. Cooley, No. 19-1414