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Comity

“Tribal governments have a pre-constitutional and extra-constitutional connection to the federal union, but the U.S. Constitution itself is mostly silent as to tribes.  As such, the notion that Indian tribes were meant to be included within the federal full faith and credit scheme of 28 U.S.C. § 1738 is not widely accepted.  The federal statute at issue mandates full faith and credit for every ‘State, Territory, or Possession.’ . . . For their part, many tribal courts conclude they are not bound to extend full faith and credit to state or federal judgments because 28 U.S.C. § 1738 imposes no obligation on tribal courts.  The passage of specific laws extending full faith and credit to certain tribal court decisions provides further legislative evidence that Congress does not see tribal courts as within the general scope of 28 U.S.C. § 1738.”  The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is among a few federal laws that expressly require states to give full faith and credit to tribal court decisions.  The principles of comity usually are applied by state and federal courts to tribal court decisions absent an express federal mandate such as VAWA. 

— Stacy L. Leeds, Cross-Jurisdictional Recognition and Enforcement of Judgments:  A Tribal Court Perspective, 76 N.D. L. Rev. 311, 332-333 (2000).

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