Almost four years after a federal judge ruled the Obama administration had overstepped its authority when it created an Indian reservation in southeastern Massachusetts for the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe, the federal government formally withdrew that designation, dealing the tribe yet another setback in its quest for a casino.
While the development wasn’t a surprise — the judge said the 2016 ruling was “not a close call,” and the Trump administration hasn’t exactly been supportive of tribal aspirations — the tribe’s leaders had held out hope the administration would try to fight the ruling.
No reservation would mean no tribal casino. Not that the recent withdrawal is the last word: The tribe and its allies are lobbying for Congress to pass one-off legislation recognizing the reservation that the Obama administration sought to create. That would, in effect, circumvent the judge’s ruling.
The legislation might be the simplest, clearest, and fairest solution to the legal soap opera in southeastern Massachusetts. There’s no question that the Mashpee Wampanoag deserve a reservation, but peculiarities of existing federal law mean it hasn’t been able to get one by the conventional process for native American tribes.
But so far, that push has gone nowhere. And it’s not just Republicans thwarting the tribe’s efforts: Rhode Island’s Democratic congressional delegation also wants to stop the tribe from developing a casino that could compete with Twin River.
The latest twist leaves the state’s gaming commission with the same set of bad options it’s had all along: keep waiting, on the remote chance that the tribe gets its reservation, or authorize a commercial applicant. Right now, with casinos shuttered because of the coronavirus outbreak, the question’s on the backburner — but it’ll be back.
▪ Idaho has experienced hundreds of coronavirus cases. But not to worry! Its state government is hard at work....making life miserable for transgender residents. The state’s legislature passed two laws aimed at transgender people, one forbidding trans women from participating in women’s sports, and the other barring people from changing the gender on their birth certificate.
▪ Politicians in Boston are attempting to use the coronavirus outbreak to stymie badly needed state intervention in Boston’s struggling schools. At a virtual meeting of the state school board, East Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards accused the state of adopting a “business as usual” outlook during the outbreak — but it’s the state’s critics that are defending the status quo of failing schools.
▪ The United States dramatically turned up the heat on the Venezuelan regime when federal prosecutors charged the country’s despotic president, Nicolás Maduro, with cocaine trafficking, narco-terrorism, and money laundering. The United States also offered a $15 million reward for information leading to his arrest. Every US effort to remove Maduro has faltered so far, and critics have suggested Washington should at least avoid escalating tensions during the pandemic, but the announcement shows the United States is still itching for regime change in Venezuela.