Recently discovered documents have revealed that the position of Governor Jerry Brown is diametrically opposed to that of his father, former Governor Pat Brown, in the matter of state sovereignty versus federal sovereignty on lands to which the federal government holds title, such as the Graton casino site.
Governor Jerry Brown is being sued by Sonoma County residents for giving a gambling compact to the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. At the center of legal argument is the question of who has jurisdiction over the Graton casino property, the federal government or the state of California?
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit Stop the Casino 101 v. Edmund G Brown, Jr. contend there are only three ways the federal government can obtain jurisdiction over land within a state's borders, and because none of the three methods have been achieved here, that the property is still under state jurisdiction. Because it is still under state jurisdiction, any casino-style gambling on the property would be illegal because casinos are illegal under state law.
Governor Jerry Brown disagrees, and claims that the federal government does have jurisdiction over the Rohnert Park casino site. But his father, Edmund G Brown, had a different point of view.
In the 1950's, President Eisenhower commissioned a report on the question of who has jurisdiction over federal enclaves in the United States. Every Attorney General of every state in the Union prepared a report for their respective states, and submitted those reports to the Eisenhower administration. In California, the Attorney General at the time happened to be Edmund G. ("Pat") Brown, Sr.
In California's contribution to this massive Eisenhower report, Pat Brown's California Department of Justice clearly states that the federal government must follow proper procedure before it can gain jurisdiction over California State land. In the case of the Graton casino, this would mean the ceding of California's jurisdiction to the federal government by a legislative act.
The need for this legislative act is further underscored by World War II era letters between Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Earl Warren, who was governor of California at the time, which clearly discuss an act of the California legislature transferring sovereignty to the federal government.
"The Earl Warren letters prove that Sacramento used to know what to do, and the Pat Brown report backs that up," said Pastor Chip Worthington, one of the plaintiffs. "Somewhere along the line, Sacramento forgot."
"That we have two of California's most prestigious governors supporting our legal position would seem to make Governor Brown's current position difficult to understand. In terms of legal authority, it doesn't get much better than Pat Brown and Earl Warren."
Additional Information: Michael Healy, Attorney- at- Law: 707-762-8768
The Pat Brown and Earl Warren documents have recently been provided to the court as part of the lawsuit. Stop the Casino 101 Coalition et al v. Brown goes to trial on August 2. The lawsuit asserts that state law does not authorize Governor Brown to enter into a gambling Compact with Graton Rancheria because the casino land is still governed by state law.
Since August 2003, a grassroots coalition of community leaders has been fighting to Stop Graton Casino. The 320,000 square-foot Graton Casino development will destroy Sonoma County’s unique way of life. This August, a Superior Court judge has the power to declare the Graton Casino compact with the state unconstitutional.
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