West Valley casino opponents receive favorable court ruling - East Valley Tribune: Politics

West Valley casino opponents receive favorable court ruling

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Posted: Monday, May 20, 2013 1:14 pm

A federal appeals court gave foes of a new Glendale casino new hope it could be legally blocked.

In a new ruling today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said it may very well be that the site owned by the Tohono O'odham Nation, while in unincorporated area, is technically ``within the corporate limits of any city or town.'' That's because the parcel is surrounded by land within Glendale.

So the judges sent the case back to the secretary of the Department of Interior to take another look at the question.

What the secretary decides -- and whether that's upheld by the courts -- is crucial. The 1986 law that permits the tribe to buy the land requires it to be outside the corporate limits of any city.

More to the point, even if the tribe can own the property, it cannot become part of the reservation if it is ``within'' Glendale's corporate limits. And without reservation status, there cannot be the casino the tribe has planned.

While two of the judges said the question is unresolved, a third judge on the panel disagreed. He said the land is definitely within Glendale's limits, precluding a casino.

And since the full 9th Circuit refused today to review the panel's decision, that leaves the Tohono O'odham one of two options: hope the Interior Secretary once again sees things its way or take the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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