The Marshall Trilogy and the Constitutional Dehumanization of American Indians

Nathan J. Goetting


is article argues that the trio of early 19th century opinions written by Chief Justice John Marshall that greatly limited tribal sovereignty should be seen within the context of the Supreme Courts tendency to periodically play amateur anthropologist and hear cases that require it to determine whether a particular sector of the American population is fully human under our law. Unlike other racial and biological groups the Court has sought to legally dehumanize, the basic holdings of the Marshall Trilogy have never been overturned and the blatant racism at the heart of these cases has never been adequately redressed.

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