Case: Native American Council of Tribes v. Weber

4:09-cv-04182 | U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota

Filed Date: Dec. 9, 2009

Closed Date: Dec. 22, 2017

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On December 9, 2009, the Native American Council of Tribes and current and former Native American inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. Native American inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary were forbidden from using tobacco in their Native American rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, they sought declaratory and injunctive relief under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA)…

On December 9, 2009, the Native American Council of Tribes and current and former Native American inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota. Native American inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary were forbidden from using tobacco in their Native American rituals and ceremonies. Therefore, they sought declaratory and injunctive relief under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), the American Indian Religious Freedom Act, 42 U.S.C. §1996, international law, and 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleging a violation of due process and their First Amendment right to free exercise of religion. Plaintiffs alleged that there were other, less restrictive means that the South Dakota State Penitentiary could accomplish their goals.

The United States filed a Statement of the Interest with the Court on July 16, 2012, stating that the defendant’s arguments were a request for the court to determine the importance and centrality of tobacco to Plaintiff’s religious practices. This was a problem because under common law and the RLUIPA, courts are forbidden from inquiring into the centrality of beliefs to religions.

In response to a motion for summary judgment brought by the defendants on February 22, 2011, the Court (Judge Karen E. Schreier) decided that Plaintiffs did not have a cause of action under the American Indian Religious Freedom Act. Furthermore, the court stated that Plaintiffs did not have claims under international law, as they did not create an independent cause of action for Plaintiffs. This left the First, Fourteenth, and RLUIPA claims for the jury to decide at trial.

The trial began on March 27, 2012. The Court concluded that the use of tobacco in Plaintiffs’ Native American ceremonies was protected by RLUIPA because Plaintiffs’ beliefs were sincerely held and because the practice of using tobacco was part of their religious tradition. Furthermore, the Court held that the ban on tobacco was a substantial burden to Plaintiffs because tobacco was an “essential and fundamental part of Plaintiffs’ religious exercise.” The Court also held that there was not a compelling government interest in the ban of tobacco and, even if there was, a total ban was not the least restrictive means as required by RLUIPA. 897 F. Supp. 2d 828.

On January 25, 2013, the District Court ordered a remedial order that limited the amount of tobacco to be 1% of the total mixture used for religious ceremonies. This was in accordance with the statements of one of the plaintiffs who argued that it did not matter how much tobacco was in the mixture, but rather that tobacco was present in the mixture. 2013 WL 310633.

The Plaintiffs were then granted attorneys’ fees in the amount of $75,350.87.

The Defendants appealed the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit on February 25, 2013. On April 24, 2014 the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit upheld the District Court’s decision for the same reasons asserted by the District Court. 750 F.3d 742. On January 7, 2016 the Eight Circuit denied the defendants’ petition for rehearing en banc.

On July 5, 2016, the Court determined that Plaintiffs’ motion to amend the remedial order was an attempt to add claims to the case rather than amend. Therefore, the plaintiffs’ motions were denied.

On August 9, 2017, the Court denied Plaintiffs’ motion to modify the remedial order because there was not a significant change in the facts or law. The Court also denied Plaintiff's motion for TRO to prohibit defendants from banning tobacco in religious ceremonies, finding that the claim is moot because that relief was already included in the Court's original order. Finally, the Court denied the Plaintiff's motion to amend their complaint because the case was already decided on its merits. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Cianan Lesley (10/8/2017)

Mary Kate Sickel (3/26/2018)

Justin Hill (5/24/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4381990/parties/native-american-council-of-tribes-v-weber/


Judge(s)

Bright, Myron H. (North Dakota)

Bye, Kermit Edward (North Dakota)

Schreier, Karen E. (South Dakota)

Smith, Lavenski R. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, April J. (District of Columbia)

Deerinwater, Verlin Hughes (District of Columbia)

Gonzalez, Mario (South Dakota)

Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia)

Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)

Parsons, Ronald A. Jr. (South Dakota)

Judge(s)

Bright, Myron H. (North Dakota)

Bye, Kermit Edward (North Dakota)

Schreier, Karen E. (South Dakota)

Smith, Lavenski R. (Arkansas)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Anderson, April J. (District of Columbia)

Deerinwater, Verlin Hughes (District of Columbia)

Gonzalez, Mario (South Dakota)

Gross, Mark L. (District of Columbia)

Mygatt, Timothy D (District of Columbia)

Parsons, Ronald A. Jr. (South Dakota)

Perez, Thomas E. (District of Columbia)

Reiter, Pamela R. (South Dakota)

Show, Sara E. (South Dakota)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Leuning, Scott H. (South Dakota)

Moore, James Ellis (South Dakota)

Munson, Michele A. (South Dakota)

Other Attorney(s)

Songer, Michael J. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Native American Council of Tribes v. Douglas Weber

Aug. 9, 2017 Docket
1

Plaintiff's Complaint Under 42 U.S.C. §2000cc-1(a)(1)-(2) For Violation of the Right to Free Exercise of Religion

Dec. 9, 2009 Complaint
5

Plaintiff's Complaint for Violation of the Right to Free Exercise of Religion

Native American Council of Tribes v. Douglas Weber

Dec. 16, 2009 Complaint
71

Plaintiffs' Unopposed Second Amended Complaint

Native American Council of Tribes v. Douglas Weber

June 15, 2010 Complaint
109

Order Granting In Part and Denying In Part Defendants' Motion For Summary Judgment

2011 WL 4382271

Sept. 20, 2011 Order/Opinion
179-3

Statement of Interest of the United States

July 10, 2012 Pleading / Motion / Brief
189

Amended Memorandum Opinion and Order

897 F.Supp.2d 828, 2012 WL 4119652

Sept. 19, 2012 Order/Opinion
196

Remedial Order

Native American Council of Tribes v. Douglas Weber

2013 WL 310633

Jan. 25, 2013 Order/Opinion

Brief for the United States as Amicus Curiae in Support of Plaintiffs-Appellees and Urging Affirmance

Native American Council of Tribes v, Weber

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

June 26, 2013 Pleading / Motion / Brief
219

Order Denying Stay and Awarding Attorney Fees and Sales Tax

2013 WL 3923451

July 29, 2013 Order/Opinion

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/4381990/native-american-council-of-tribes-v-weber/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
67

ORDER denying 43 Motion; denying 50 Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction; granting in part and denying in part 51 Motion to Dismiss Party ; denying 12 Motion; denying 23 Motion for Summary Judgment; denying 28 Motion; denying 31 Motion for Protective Order; denying 32 Motion for Permanent Injunction. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 5/18/2010. (KC)

May 18, 2010 RECAP
91

ORDER granting extension of time to respond to 80 MOTION for Summary Judgment by 6/30/2011; directing attorney to notify plaintiffs of 85 First MOTION to Withdraw as Attorney; directing plaintiffs to notify court by 6/17/2011. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 5/12/2011. (KC)

May 12, 2011 RECAP
95

ORDER granting 85 Motion to Withdraw as Attorney effective 8/15/11; denying 92 Motion to Appoint Counsel; granting 92 Motion to Continue; granting in part and denying in part 93 Motion. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 7/18/2011. (KC)

July 18, 2011 RECAP
109

ORDER granting in part and denying in part 80 Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 9/20/2011. (KC)

Sept. 20, 2011 RECAP
106

ORDER denying 97 Motion to transfer; denying 100 Motion for Hearing; granting 103 Motion to Dismiss Party. Shaun Garnette, Nephi Antelope, and David Deloria are dismissed. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 9/9/2011. (KC)

Oct. 13, 2011 RECAP
188

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re court trial. Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 9/19/2012. (KC)

Sept. 20, 2012 RECAP
189

AMENDED MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re court trial. (Amended to correct footnote 26.) Signed by Chief Judge Karen E. Schreier on 9/19/2012. (KC)

Sept. 20, 2012 RECAP
196

REMEDIAL ORDER re 189 Memorandum Opinion and Order. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 1/25/2013. (KC)

Jan. 25, 2013 RECAP
219

ORDER granting 203 Motion for Attorney Fees; denying 209 Motion to Stay. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 7/29/13. (KC)

July 29, 2013 RECAP
248

ORDER AMENDING REMEDIAL ORDER denying as moot 234 Motion to Amend/Correct; denying as moot 245 Motion; denying as moot 246 Motion to Enforce ; granting 247 Motion to Amend Remedial Order. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 9/23/15. (SLW)

Sept. 23, 2015 RECAP
286

ORDER denying 270 Motion to modify the remedial order; denying 273 Motion to modify order; denying 275 Motion for Hearing; denying 276 Motion for further relief; denying 279 Ex Parte Motion to remove current counsel; denying 280 Moti on to Appoint Replacement Counsel; denying 281 Motion for a certified question regarding modification and amendment; denying without prejudice 282 Motion to Amend; denying without prejudice 284 Motion to amend inter alia. Signed by U.S. District Judge Karen E. Schreier on 8/9/17. (DJP)

Aug. 9, 2017 RECAP
289

Miscellaneous Relief

1 Env postmarked 6/8/18

View on PACER

June 11, 2018 PACER
290

Memorandum in Support of Motion

1 Statement by Thomas Rabbitt

View on PACER

June 11, 2018 PACER

State / Territory: South Dakota

Case Type(s):

Prison Conditions

Special Collection(s):

DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest

Key Dates

Filing Date: Dec. 9, 2009

Closing Date: Dec. 22, 2017

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Plaintiffs were Native American Inmates in the South Dakota State Penitentiary.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-profit religious organization

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: No

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

South Dakota, State

Defendant Type(s):

Corrections

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Religious Freedom Rest. Act/Religious Land Use and Inst. Persons Act (RFRA/RLUIPA)

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Free Exercise Clause

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Monetary Relief

Injunctive (or Injunctive-like) Relief

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Attorneys fees

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Form of Settlement:

Court Approved Settlement or Consent Decree

Amount Defendant Pays: $75,350.80

Content of Injunction:

Discrimination Prohibition

Issues

General:

Conditions of confinement

International law

Religious programs / policies

Discrimination-basis:

Religion discrimination

Race:

American Indian/Alaskan Native

Type of Facility:

Government-run