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Federal court lifts injunction blocking Lansing casino project

Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Artist conception of the proposed Kewadin Lansing casino

A federal appeals court has lifted an injunction that was standing in the way of a casino in downtown Lansing.

The Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians wants to build a casino next to Lansing’s convention center.

Michigan’s Attorney General asked for and got a federal court to prevent the tribe from moving ahead with its plans. The attorney general says the tribe’s casino would violate agreements between the state and Michigan’s Native American tribes.

But a federal appeals court decided the lower court did not have jurisdiction and should not have issued the injunction.

The decision opens the door for the tribe to ask the federal government to take the land in downtown Lansing into trust for the tribe.

The tribe issues a statement, saying in part "Our patience and perseverance have been rewarded...we will now move expeditiously to file our trust application with the federal government to open the casino... Nothing worth doing is ever easy, and we will continue to pursue and defend our legal rights.”

Lansing mayor Virg Bernero issued a statement saying he is “deeply gratified that the federal appeals court has given the Sault Tribe the green light.”

The Michigan Attorney General's office issued a statement saying it disagrees with the appeals court decision.

"We are confident that states’ authority to stop illegal gaming on their own sovereign land will be upheld next year by the U.S. Supreme Court when it rules in Michigan v Bay Mills Indian Community."

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the Bay Mills case earlier this month.

The appeals court’s decision is likely not the final word  in any case as more litigation is expected.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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