The Supreme Court agreed yesterday to decide whether federal laws protecting the national symbol, the bald eagle, override the treaty rights of Indian tribes to hunt them on reservations.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after a two-year undercover investigation of illegal trade in bald and golden eagles and other birds in South Dakota, brought charges against more than 40 people, many of them Indians living on or near the Yankton Sioux Reservation, under the Bald Eagle Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act of 1973.
One of those arrested, Dwight Dion Sr., who was charged with selling carcasses and crafts containing the feathers, said prohibitions against hunting and trading in eagles and other birds do not apply to Indians on reservations because Congress, in passing the legislation, did not make it clear that it intended to override those rights.
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, but said treaty rights did not include the right to take protected birds for a commercial purpose or sell them and affirmed Dion's convictions on those counts.
The government argues nevertheless that the appeals court decision in U.S. v. Dion undermines congressional intent to protect wildlife. The Justice Department, asking the high court to overturn the appeals court, argues that Indian treaty rights do not permit "hunting a species to extinction." Another HHS Candidate
* Add another name to the list of candidates to replace Margaret M. Heckler as secretary of Health and Human Services.
Dr. William Walsh, the physician who heads Project Hope, the health-care and health-education organization, is now under consideration, sources said yesterday. In 1980, Walsh headed Ronald Reagan's transition task force on health. 'Notch Babies' Protest
* Two hundred senior citizens carted 130,000 petitions into a congressional hearing yesterday demanding higher Social Security benefits for so-called "notch babies" -- people born from 1917 to 1921.
It was the latest skirmish in a continuing battle to get Congress to reconsider actions it took eight years ago to bring a runaway benefit formula under control.
People born in 1916 -- those now 69 -- who paid the maximum Social Security tax throughout their working careers are drawing benefits that in some cases are as much as $160 a month greater than those received by people born in 1917.
In correcting an error made in 1972, when benefits and wages were first indexed to inflation, Congress let those born in 1916 stay under the old formula, and provided a transition formula for those born in 1917 through 1921. These notch babies actually will get a higher return than persons born after 1921, but less than those born in 1916.
But the notch in benefits was sharper than most experts had expected, and it has been a source of consternation ever since for people like those who trooped into the hearing by the House Select Committee on Aging.
Rep. Edward R. Roybal (D-Calif.), the committee chairman, has 104 cosponsors for a bill to raise benefits for the notch babies by as much as $184 a month. Executive Notes
* At the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Thomas Murr, director of the agency's budget office, has been appointed deputy executive director of the CPSC, its highest civil service job. Murr joined the agency in 1973.
In addition, Paul Rubin has been appointed associate executive director for economic analysis. For the past two years, Rubin has been assistant director for consumer protection of the Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Economics. Previously, he served with the Council of Economic Advisers.