Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak

In Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 775, 111 S.Ct. 2578, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991), the Court held that a statute giving federal district courts original jurisdiction of suits brought by an Indian tribe involving federal law did not constitute a delegation to the tribes of the United States' ability, free from the Eleventh Amendment bar, to sue the states as the tribes' trustee. See id. at 785-86. Although the Court held that Congress intended no delegation in the jurisdictional statute, the Court was dubious that such a delegation would have been constitutionally permissible: We doubt ... that that sovereign exemption can be delegated-even if one limits the permissibility of delegation ... to persons on whose behalf the United States itself might sue. The consent, "inherent in the convention," to suit by the United States--at the instance and under the control of responsible federal officers--is not consent to suit by anyone whom the United States might select; and even consent to suit by the United States for a particular persons's benefit is not consent to suit by that person himself. Id. at 785. In Blatchford v. Native Village of Noatak, 501 U.S. 111 S.Ct. 2578, 2583, 115 L.Ed.2d 686 (1991) (slip op., at 10), the argument was made that Alaska's Eleventh Amendment immunity to suit was abrogated by 28 U.S.C. 1362, a jurisdictional grant, akin to 1334(d), that gives district courts jurisdiction over "all civil actions, brought by any Indian tribe ... arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Rejecting that contention, the Court observed: "The fact that Congress grants jurisdiction to hear a claim does not suffice to show Congress has abrogated all defenses to that claim. The issues are wholly distinct." Id., at n. 4, 111 S.Ct. at 2585 n. 4 (slip op., at 10, n. 4).