“The decision by State Supreme Court Justice Donna Siwek to lift her temporary restraining order was a victory for the rule of law and a defeat for the Seneca Indian Nation. The decision turned back the Seneca Indian Nation’s efforts to stall, delay and deny New York State from moving forward with enforcing the law, collecting the tax and leveling the playing field.
The Seneca Indian Nation had their day in court. In fact, they have had it day after day, year after year, going all the way back to 1994, when the United States Supreme Court first ruled that New York State could collect taxes on cigarettes sold on Native American lands to non-Native American Indians. It has been 17 years since that decision and, in the interim, local governments and taxpayers have borne millions in legal costs, countless convenience stores were forced to close because competitors were not following the law, and state government lost billions in revenue. Money that could have been collected and used to fund education, deliver property tax relief, improve health care or repair critical infrastructure is gone forever.
It is troubling, but not surprising, that the Seneca Indian Nation is seeking still another appeal. This latest claim – much like their previous maneuvering – is wholly without merit and must be dismissed. Our legal system affords the right to an appeal, but there are limits. The United States Supreme Court, Federal Court of Appeals, U.S. District Court, New York State Supreme Court, and New York State Court of Appeals all have ruled against the Seneca Indian Nation. The Seneca Indian Nation’s latest ploy makes a mockery of our legal system and demonstrates they have no desire to follow the law. Fortunately, the decision is not up to them. It is up to Governor Cuomo and State Department of Taxation and Finance Commissioner Mattox to begin enforcing the tax collections, knowing full well that their actions are supported by an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers who believe in the rule of law.”