Court Hears Casino Case

October 22, 2007
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments in Michigan Gambling Opposition’s lawsuit this morning against the U.S. Department of Interior challenging the government’s intention to take the former Ampro manufacturing facility in Wayland Township into trust on behalf of the Gun Lake Tribe for renovation as a tribal casino.

In the face of a pair of recent decisions before the same court concerning tribal casinos earlier this year and last, attorneys from the Grand Rapids law firm Warner, Norcross & Judd, which represented MichGo and the plaintiffs in both of the preceding cases, conceded the primary arguments made in their district court challenge. The MichGo lawyers chose not to argue the merits of the government’s environmental impact evaluation or whether Ampro qualified as an “initial reservation.” The challenge focused primarily on whether the Department of Interior had the authority to take land into trust at all, arguing that it should be a legislative act.

In his response, Department of Justice attorney Aaron Avila, representing the federal government, said that power had been upheld by every court that has discussed it.

“We’re now more confident than ever that we will prevail and will soon begin construction on the casino,” said Jim Nye, spokesman for the Gun Lake Tribe.

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