Two members of Congress, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) are questioning a policy the U.S. Department of Interior has proceeded with in recent weeks involving its tribal land acquisition policies.
For years, Interior has operated under a “self-stay policy,” which prevented the Department from putting land into trust for tribes while another party was suing over that decision. The idea behind the policy was that if the land was already taken into trust, any court case against the decision would be mooted, and therefore a litigant would be denied his or her day in court.
But the game changed in 2012, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Salazar v. Patchak that a litigant could sue for up to six years after Interior takes lands into trust for tribes. In response, Interior officials decided this year that they would end their “self-stay policy” and put lands into trust, regardless of litigation, since litigation can happen for up to six years anyway.