The lower courts agreed, suppressing the evidence against Mr. Cooley.
Justice Stephen G. Breyer, writing for the court, acknowledged that the Supreme Court’s precedents generally barred tribes from regulating the activities of those outside them. But he said there was an important exception. Tribes may act, he wrote, quoting a 1981 decision, when a non-Native American’s “conduct threatens or has some direct effect on the political integrity, the economic security or the health or welfare of the tribe.”
- A Big Month. June is peak season for Supreme Court decisions. It is the final month of the court’s annual term, and the justices tend to save their biggest decisions for the term’s end.
- 4 Big Cases. The court is set to rule on the fate of Obamacare, as well as a case that could determine scores of laws addressing election rules in the coming years. It is also taking on a case involving religion and gay rights and one on whether students may be disciplined for what they say on social media (here’s an audio report on that subject; and here’s where public opinion stands on several of the big cases).
- What to Watch For. The approaches that Amy Coney Barrett, the newest justice, and Brett Kavanaugh, the second-newest, take. They will be crucial because the three liberal justices now need at least two of the six conservatives to form a majority. Before the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the liberals needed only one conservative.
- Looking Ahead. Next year’s term, which will start in the fall, will have cases on abortion, guns and perhaps affirmative action, and could end up being the most significant term so far under Chief Justice John Roberts.
That exception, Justice Breyer wrote, “fits the present case, almost like a glove.”
“To deny a tribal police officer authority to search and detain for a reasonable time any person he or she believes may commit or has committed a crime would make it difficult for tribes to protect themselves against ongoing threats,” he wrote. “Such threats may be posed by, for instance, non-Indian drunk drivers, transporters of contraband or other criminal offenders operating on roads within the boundaries of a tribal reservation.”
It was significant, too, Justice Breyer wrote, that the charges Mr. Cooley ultimately faced were not tribal ones but under “state and federal laws that apply whether an individual is outside a reservation or on a state or federal highway within it.”
In the immigration case, Garland v. Dai, No. 19-1155, the court rejected rulings from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, that assumed immigrants’ testimony was credible unless immigration judges specifically said otherwise.
“The Ninth Circuit has long applied a special rule in immigration disputes,” Justice Neil M. Gorsuch wrote for the court, one that “appears to be an outlier.” Unless immigration judges make “an explicit adverse credibility determination,” the appeals court said, “a reviewing court must treat a petitioning alien’s testimony as credible and true.”