The Tohono O'odham Nation was victorious again after a U.S. District Court judge declared unconstitutional a law allowing Glendale to annex the nation's property.
It's the latest in a series of decisions that have gone in favor of the Nation, which plans to build a resort-style casino near Westgate City Center, Glendale's slumping entertainment district.
The law, signed by Governor Jan Brewer in February, would have allowed a city to annex land without the owner's approval if that owner asked the feds to take ownership of property or take it into trust. (Taking land into trust for an Indian nation is effectively creating a reservation for that tribe.)
Creating the law was part of a strategy by state and local leaders, as well as leaders from other tribes, to derail the casino project. Read more about why they oppose the Nation's plans at www.keepingthepromiseaz.com.
U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled that H.B. 2534, the annexation law, also violated federal law because its "clear purpose and effect would be to block [the Department of Interior] from taking the land into trust, contrary to the express command of Congress."
Read "Wanna Bet?" a New Times feature that details the Tohono O'odham Nation's history and why Congress created a law that allows them to move into the West Valley, just on the edge of Glendale.
From a press release issued by the Nation:
In addition to four favorable court rulings, federal and regional agencies have found in the Nation's favor on three other occasions. These repeated findings for the Nation are clear evidence that Glendale and other opponents are using the courts in their misguided efforts to delay this important economic development project.