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May 21, 2018: Upper Skagit v. Lundgren

The key issue pushes us back to foundational questions about sovereignty and history—involved the “immovable property exception” to sovereign immunity. Under this rule, sovereigns who purchase property within the territory of another sovereign cannot invoke their sovereign immunity to halt proceedings concerning those lands. So, if California buys land in Nevada, or Canada buys land within the United States, neither sovereign enjoys the benefit of sovereign immunity in property actions in Nevada or U.S. courts. On appeal, the Lundgrens’ attorneys argued that the same rule should apply to tribes, too. But the Court decided not to entertain that claim, because the Lundgrens had failed to raise it adequately on appeal, and instead gave the Washington Supreme Court the first crack at assessing whether the exception applies.

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