The first Supreme Court oral argument Monday morning was all about Native American law and the jurisdiction of tribal courts. But Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. took the debate in an unexpected direction — across the Atlantic to southern Europe.

The issue in Plains Commerce Bank v. Long Family Land & Cattle was whether tribal courts have jurisdiction over a dispute between a nontribal bank and a company that is majority Indian-owned. More than 51 percent of the owners of the South Dakota ranching company in the case are members of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, and, as such, the company was entitled to loan guarantees from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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