Publication Title

Public Land Law Review

Document Type



Since his appointment to the United States Supreme Court, Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist has guided significant changes m Indian law He has articulated new tests for determining the status of tribes and their powers as sovereign nations. He has voted to disestablish tribes and limit their sovereign powers. He has voted to allow states to exercise jurisdiction over Indian and non-Indian activities and property on reservations.

The articulation of a legal philosophy is generally accepted, expected, and probably necessary for a Supreme Court Justice. At the same time it is instructive to know the views of the members of the Court, so counsel can better frame their arguments.

This article discusses Chief Justice Rehnquist's impact on American Indian jurisprudence. Rehnquist's legal philosophy has proven detrimental to American Indian rights. As Chief Justice, he has taken a general position against the sovereignty of Indian peoples, and has upheld Indian self-government only to the extent that non-Indians are not affected.



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