A group of Taunton residents filed suit Thursday, seeking to block federal action clearing the way for a tribal casino at an industrial park in the city.
The lawsuit draws on centuries of history, arguing, "No tribal body has exercised tribal governmental authority over these lands for over three hundred years," and contending that the federal decision to grant tribal lands into trust was invalid because the tribe was not federally recognized as of 1934 — a legal argument stemming from the U.S. Supreme Court's 2009 Carcieri v. Salazar decision.
Matthew Frankel, of Nixon Peabody's Providence, Rhode Island, office, filed the suit against the U.S. Department of the Interior, whose decision to take land in trust allowed the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe to clear a major hurdle in its bid to build a resort casino in Taunton.
The federal government last September approved transfer of about 170 acres of land in Mashpee and about 151 acres of land in Taunton into federal trust. The Mashpee tribe already has an agreement with the state that would allow it to owe zero percent of its gaming revenue in taxes if a commercial casino is established in the southeastern part of the state.
Rush Street Gaming, which is using a different process in its attempt to build a Brockton casino in the southeastern region, has predicted that years of litigation would put off any casino construction in Taunton.