Worcester v. Georgia

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Worcester v. Georgia, Template:Ussc, was a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that Cherokee Indians were entitled to federal protection from the actions of state governments.

Contents

The bench

Opinion

Concurring opinions

  • Written by: Justice McLean

Dissenting

The case

Worcester is considered one of the most influential decisions in the area of law applicable to American Indians. The Marshall court had previously ruled in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia that Indian tribes in the United States did not have the status of foreign nations (famously describing them as "domestic dependent nations"); here the court ruled that the Cherokee nation was a "distinct community" with self-government, "in which the laws of Georgia can have no force". This ruling established the doctrine that the national government of the United States—and not individual states—had authority in Indian affairs.

In reaction to this decision, President Andrew Jackson has often been quoted as defying the Supreme Court with the words: "John Marshall has made his decision; now let him enforce it!". Jackson never actually said this; in fact, because of a legal loophole, he had no grounds for becoming involved unless the Georgia courts formally defied the Supreme Court. That did not happen, since Georgia simply ignored the ruling. What Jackson actually said was that "the decision of the supreme court has fell still born, and they find that they cannot coerce Georgia to yield to its mandate." Jackson's opponents criticized him for failing to act against Georgia, but even if he had wanted to intervene—and he did not—he had no legal authority to do so (Prucha, p. 212).

See also

References

  • Prucha, Francis Paul. The Great Father: The United States Government and the American Indians, volume I. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1984.

External links


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