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14.11.03

Trust Fund Stalling

Appeals Court Temporarily Halts Court-Ordered Accounting of Money Owed To Indians

An accounting of money owed to hundreds of thousands of American Indians was put on hold Thursday as an appeals court considers whether recent action by Congress can overturn a federal judge's order.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued the stay so attorneys for the government and American Indians suing the Interior Department can file briefs on the effect of the congressional action.

... But Congress, at the urging of the White House, added language to an Interior Department spending bill that prevented an accounting from going forward until Congress defines the scope and methods to be used.

... The Senate's legal counsel and House members from both parties said the provision is likely unconstitutional because the administration cannot dictate to courts how to interpret the law.

-- via WitchVox


If the implication of that last sentence -- that the provision is well-known to be unconstitutional -- is right, that's both good news (because it will be overturned) and bad news (because of what it says about our legislators). The Department of the Interior complains about how expensive doing the required audit would be, but stupid delaying stunts like this only make things more expensive. The most cost-effective remedy (and coincidentally the most just, both from the perspective of the affected Native Americans and from the perspective of Americans who think the government ought to be able to balance a checkbook) would be to stop fighting and just do the audit already.

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