Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas criticized the justices’ decision on Monday not to take a case, saying they are “giving Congress the power to destroy the states’ territorial integrity.”
The high court on Monday rejected Upstate Citizens for Equality, Inc. v. U.S. involvingthe Indian Commerce Clause and whether the Constitution gives Congress the authority to infringe, reduce or diminish the territorial integrity of individual states without first getting the states’ consent.
Petitioners from upstate New York disputed the federal government’s 2008 decision to turn over 13,000 acres of land to the Oneida Nation of New York, descendants of an Iroquois nation. The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that the Indian Commerce Clause gave the federal government the power to do so and the Supreme Court declined to review this decision.
Thomas criticized the federal appeals court’s decision as meaning, “Congress could reduce a State to near nonexistence by taking all land within its borders and declaring it sovereign Indian territory.”