Washington Law Review


Allan Baris


In April 1977 a Ninth Circuit panel in Yakima I 5 ruled that R.C.W. ch. 37.12 violates the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment. The Supreme Court, in accepting review, has instructed the parties to prepare briefs on both the equal protection challenge and the issue of Washington's compliance with PL-280.17 Several Washington tribes have contended that R.C.W. ch. 37.12 fails to comply with PL-280 because (1) Washington failed to amend its constitution in order to remove a disclaimer of jurisdiction on Indian lands 18 and (2) PL-280 does not permit the assumption of partial jurisdiction by a state. In addressing these compliance issues, the Court will have the opportunity to settle much of the debate that has continued for two decades surrounding the requirements of PL-280. The decision will have immediate impact on Washington's twenty-three tribes and the counties where their reservations are located. It will also have implications for seven other states with similar constitutional disclaimers of jurisdiction. This comment will analyze first the two compliance issues and then the equal protection challenge.

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